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Wbbm: Pushed To Hire Black Anchor?

July 24, 1986|DAVID CROOK | Times Staff Writer

The embattled CBS-owned television station in Chicago may hire a black news anchorman, but a station official said the move is not a reaction to an extended boycott of the station by the Operation PUSH civil rights organization.

Ted Faraone, a spokesman for CBS-owned WBBM-TV in Chicago, said Wednesday that the station is in negotiation with New York broadcast journalist Lester Holt for a position as an anchorman for its weekday newscasts.

Holt, 27, a CBS employee since 1979, has been a weekend anchor and reporter for the network-owned station in New York since January, 1984. Prior to that, Holt spent two years as a weekend anchor and reporter with CBS-owned KCBS-TV in Los Angeles.

"We're talking to the guy," spokesman Faraone said. "We're 98% sure we'll get him."

Faraone denied, however, a report in Wednesday's editions of the New York Times that Holt's impending hiring may be related to a 10-month PUSH protest of WBBM's employment practices.

"Every time the station makes a move regarding a person of the black persuasion, the New York Times runs the Operation PUSH hand-out on the matter," Faraone said.

Operation PUSH launched a boycott of WBBM in October, 1985, after the station demoted longtime anchor and reporter Harry Porterfield, a black man, who later resigned and joined a competing Chicago station. Operation PUSH has tried to extend its protest to other CBS-owned stations around the country.

In March, CBS named Johnathan Rodgers general manager of the station. Formerly executive producer of the "CBS Morning News" and a longtime CBS executive, Rodgers was the first black ever named general manager of a network-owned television station. While at KCBS (then KNXT), Rodgers hired Holt for that station's news operation.

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