It’s a double “homecoming” for Chris Wragge. The veteran WCBS news anchor is returning to sports, at least for two weeks. Wragge is getting a spot with CBS Sports at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships beginning Monday, August 27 at Flushing Meadow.
Wragge says it was “totally unexpected” when he was asked last month by Harold Bryant (VP/Production/CBS Sports). Groundwork had been laid by CBS Sports president Sean McManus, who was integral in hiring Wragge for The Early Show in late 2010.
“Sean has been great to me over the years,” Wragge says. “This was a welcome home call.
With the blessing of WCBS executives David Friend and Peter Dunn, Wragge makes his first network appearance since the morning overhaul at the start of the year, and his premiere on CBS Sports.
Wragge is called on primarily as a weekend studio host. The move was necessitated, thanks to the ascension of Bill Macatee to lead play-by-play voice at the Open.
“What it boils down to is, you’ll see more of me if there are rain delays,” Wragge laughs.
But Wragge isn’t joking when it comes to the CBS Sports brand.
“Obviously, it’s just such an amazing franchise, top to bottom,” Wragge says. “To be associated, and to be asked to be a part of any of their properties, I was overwhelmed and flattered to be honest with you.”
Wragge says his hosting work will include scoring updates and player interviews.
The extra visibility, though, will not impede upon his dual anchor duties weeknights on WCBS (6 p.m.) or WLNY (9 p.m.) with Dana Tyler.
Extending his weekend coverage, Wragge hosts coverage of the first Monday, Labor Day, and the final Friday.
As for the idea of launching himself into a larger sports presence at CBS, Wragge says it’s not his decision.
“It’s totally up to them,” Wragge says. “I’ll do as much as my bosses will allow me to do.”
Wragge, who was hired in 2004 as lead sports anchor when Warner Wolf was shown the door, says today the “password” is versatility.
“It’s a lot more prevalent now than let’s say it was 10 years ago,” Wragge admits. “I think a lot of these networks and a lot of these places are looking for people that can do a multitude of things … If I have to wear that sports hat a little bit, I can do that. I can jump right back into news and neither is compromised.”
An Emmy Award-winning anchor, Wragge says his credibility is not hurt, “Because I’ve done everything from local sports to local news to [the] network.”
Wragge years earlier worked the Olympics and NBA playoffs for NBC.
“This is just a muscle that I don’t get to flex each and every day,” Wragge says. “I’m happy that I can fall back on my past experiences that are going to push me through this.”
He’s excited to add the U.S. Open as another sports entry on his resume.
“These are things that when I look back one day on my career I’ll be so thankful that I was able to have a part in it,” Wragge says.
But before getting any tennis face time, a priority is Wragge’s prep time, specifically some hard to pronounce female tennis players.
“Ever since I got the call, I’ve been brushing up,” Wragge says.