For one last night, Dan Rather was No. 1 in the ratings.
CBS was first in the preliminary Nielsen Media Research ratings among the three network evening newscasts on Wednesday, Rather's last day as anchorman. CBS usually has finished a distant third.
Rather topped the ratings for several years after taking over from Walter Cronkite in 1981, before being eclipsed first by ABC's Peter Jennings, then by NBC's Tom Brokaw.
National ratings for Wednesday's newscasts aren't expected until next week, but figures available Thursday from the top 56 markets in the country showed that CBS averaged a 7.3 rating compared to 6.5 for NBC's "Nightly News" and 6.4 for ABC's "World News Tonight."
At 8 p.m., CBS aired a one-hour special, "Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers," which included clips of his coverage of Vietnam, the 1968 Democratic convention and the Nixon White House. The program averaged 9.2 million viewers, which represents a slight improvement over CBS' season-to-date ratings for the newsmagazine "60 Minutes Wednesday" (8.6 million). But it was no match for a repeat of ABC's hit drama "Lost," which ranked No. 1 for the time period (12.2 million viewers).