Chicago Station Going Back to The Future


WLS in Chicago is going back to the future and it will be just in time for the November book. 

Robert Feder writes that seventeen years after “Eyewitness News” disappeared from Chicago television, it’s making a comeback.

Just in time for the November sweeps WLS-Channel 7 will go back to branding itself as “Eyewitness News,” the station’s well-known franchise from 1969 to 1996.

“The reality is ['Eyewitness News'] still has a very strong identity with this station — even though it was dropped a number of years ago,” said John Idler, president and general manager of the ABC-owned outlet. “It’s still very important to our viewers, and they associate it with ABC 7. That’s principally why we’re bringing it back.”

Details are still under wraps, but Idler said the new branding “will be incorporated appropriately throughout the station,” including show opens, graphics and advertising.

Idler emphasized that the goal isn’t to go retro. “The execution of this is going to be very contemporary,” he said. “It is not going to be a look back to ‘Eyewitness News.’ It is going to be a look forward to what ‘Eyewitness News’ means to viewers today.”

Asked about the timing of the move, Idler said it was “driven by a desire to freshen up the look of the station.” It also comes as ABC 7 is battling to retain its status as the top-rated news operation in the market. After more than a quarter-century of local news dominance, its margins of victory have been shrinking and, in some key demographics, have evaporated.

Read more from Feder's blog post