If it seems like WNBC’s 11 p.m. anchor team of Chuck Scarborough and new partner Shiba Russell are barely together on the air, you’re not dreaming!
FishbowlNY examined how often the anchors sat side-by-side since Russell’s official debut at 11 p.m. one month ago last night. The number is incredibly low–try four. Just four times for Chuck and Shiba.
There were those first three days, including the infamous “Sue Simmons” identifying graphic for Russell at the start of the second newscast. Night-three was only a slight improvement, with no anchor names shown on the screen, although everyone else’s was displayed correctly.
The duo had one more night together, but not until July 11.
But if you are looking for some insidious, gossipy reason for the pair being conspicuous by its absence on a nightly basis, think again. A WNBC spokeswoman says this is simply the talent, especially Scarborough from his 38 years with the company, taking summer vacation.
A likely push to use vacation time in July is due to the Olympics starting next Friday. We’re told that Scarborough and Russell will be together starting Monday and will be seen anchoring throughout the 16-day event. However, we’re not sure if the Chuck and Shiba show will greet viewers after weekend Olympic coverage as well.
In addition, there was a handful of days this month that Scarborough worked solo at 11. On those nights, Scarborough made no mention of his partner at the top of the broadcast having the night off. However, when Chuck was away from 30 Rock, either David Ushery or Shiba (if solo) always said, “Chuck has the night off.”
The spokesperson, unaware, said it was likely a “stylistic” issue.
On reflection, we’re not sure what was is gained by teaming Chuck with Shiba so quickly after Simmons’ departure, only to have them AWOL much of the next month. Since they had worked together numerous times in the past year, it might have made more sense for Channel 4 to wait until July 23 to usher in Chuck and Shiba without Ushery.