Chris Wragge Says Leaving WCBS for Early Show Was ‘Too Good … to Pass Up’

As we reported on Tuesday, WCBS top anchor Chris Wragge is heading to mornings as host of the network’s The Early Show.

Beginning on Monday, January 3, Wragge will lead the revamped Early Show that also features co-anchor Erica Hill, news reader Jeff Glor, and weather forecaster Marysol Castro. His final day at Channel 2 is December 10.

Wragge tells FishbowlNY that he was delighted to make the move, if not conflicted.

“It’s always tough when you’re in a situation that you really love, and you work with somebody that you’re over the moon for,” Wragge admits. “But this challenge is one that I’ve obviously wanted for a long time. …It was too good a deal to pass up.”

Two years after joining WCBS, Wragge transitioned from nightly sports anchor to lead news anchor in 2006. Since that time he has been paired with Kristine Johnson.

Wragge talks about the struggles with joining a last-place program after the jump.

But for the confident Wragge, that was just one of several career goals he’s been able to attain.  

Starting with his sportscasting days, he began to excel in ad-libbing on any topic. Wragge has been a network presence either in news or sports for 10 years, and has been involved exclusively in hard news since 2006.

“Everything that I’ve done to this point has gotten me to this spot.”

However, the line “be careful what you wish for” could fit for Wragge, as The Early Show has been a perennially third-place finisher behind stalwarts NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America.

“I don’t mind meeting these challenges head on. …It’s really all about people accepting you and welcoming you,” Wragge says. 

He says the familiarity already established with viewers from his weekday fill-in work for Harry Smith and Saturday Early Show hosting can only help the transition.

“There’s only so much you can do,” Wragge says. “People have to want to tune in to watch.”

The versatile anchor says given the tumult at The Early Show, there will be plenty of behind the scenes work to “build a bigger following.”

Wragge says one reason he was quick to jump at the chance was his chemistry with Saturday on-air partner Hill.

“Before Erica got there, I was with, literally, a different person every weekend for about 10 months,” Wragge recalls. “It would be a different anchorwoman each week. The first day that Erica was there it just clicked.”

Wragge, who prepares to settle into The Early Show, was known for a tireless work ethic. Wragge, whenever needed, would fill in mornings and without missing a beat (or nap) return to WCBS at night. Those days are gone.

“I had done that for a number of years. It was taxing. …No one could keep that pace consistently at five days a week for the whole year,” Wragge says.

While Wragge moves to the morning shift, colleague Maurice DuBois switches from sunrise to sunset. DuBois was chosen to replace Wragge.

“Maurice is great. You talk about a guy who is just tailor-made and ready to walk right in. It’s lucky that they have a good bench over there,” Wragge says.

Peter Dunn, WCBS president and general manager, and David Friend, the station news director, are the execs that bring DuBois to nights. They also brought Wragge his most visibility on TV.

“They have been absolutely wonderful. I owe Peter and David …everything,” Wragge admits. “They took a big chance on me, not only retaining me but also turning me into their main news anchor…. It has proved to be the best decision I’ve ever made.”