This just in: After 16 months of flying solo -- and pretty much under the ratings radar -- Rob Johnson soon will find himself with a new partner on the anchor desk at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2.
Kate Sullivan, who's been a morning news anchor at sister station WCBS-TV in New York for four years, will join Channel 2 here as a Monday-through-Friday news anchor this fall. Johnson currently hosts the station's 5, 6 and 10 p.m. weekday newscasts by himself.
News of Sullivan's hiring was announced to Channel 2 staffers at a hastily called station meeting Wednesday afternoon after New York media sources had confirmed the move with WCBS. No specific anchor assignment or start date for Sullivan was announced, but insiders said she is expected to turn up sometime after Labor Day on the 10 p.m. newscast alongside Johnson.
Sullivan, 33, a native of Massachusetts and graduate of the University of Notre Dame, was a reporter at WSBT-TV in South Bend, Ind., and WJAR-TV in Providence, R.I., and was a reporter and news anchor at KATV-TV in Little Rock, Ark., before joining WCBS in 2006. She also has appeared as a co-host on CBS News' "The Saturday Early Show."
Johnson's last anchor partner, Anne State, was taken off the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts in April 2009 as part of a wave of budget cuts and retrenchments at Channel 2. At the time, she was demoted to full-time reporting duties and anchoring only at 5 p.m. State left the station when her contract was not renewed last March.
The addition of Sullivan would bring to 11 the number of anchor combinations Channel 2 has had on its 10 p.m. newscast in the past 10 years. As has been the case throughout the decade, Channel 2 continues to lag far behind its competitors in the ratings.
Even with the expected addition of Sullivan, Channel 2 general manager Bruno Cohen and news director Jeff Kiernan may not be finished tinkering with their anchor lineups. Rumors persist that they're determined to reunite the legendary anchor team of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson, presumably on one of the station's early-evening newscasts (since both publicly have ruled out any interest in anchoring at 10 p.m.). But that scenario remains highly speculative.
Kurtis and Jacobson, who last fronted Channel 2's news operation in its glory days more than 20 years ago, returned together for a one-night stint on the anchor desk last November. Since February, Jacobson has been contributing his "Perspective" commentaries twice a week on the 10 p.m. newscast.