Chris Wragge on His Return to WCBS: ‘I’m actually very flattered’

By Chris Ariens 

Chris Wragge is training for the triathlon in Montauk, NY in October. But his training schedule is about to get a shakeup. Beginning Sept. 6, Wragge will anchor the 6pm news on WCBS while also continuing to co-anchor the network’s “The Early Show.”

“The added workload is going to be great,” jokes Wragge, whose contract with the Eye runs through 2014. We talked with Wragge, who joined CBS as sports director/anchor at WCBS in 2004, just after the announcement was made; about the move and about the rocky road “The Early Show” has been on of late.

TVNewser: How do you feel about this?

Wragge: Oh my God. Amazing. The added workload is going to be great. (laughs) Look I wouldn’t have agreed to it if I didn’t want to do it. These guys (at “The Early Show”) are my family now, but I also had a great family in local, with (WCBS execs) Peter Dunn and David Friend. The opportunity presented itself. I’m doing the 6 so it’s a little bit easier than before when I was doing the 5 and staying to do the 11.

TVNewser: How did it come about and when?

Wragge: Within the last couple of weeks. We opened the door. It was presented as a matter of the network guys allowing me to do it and allowing me to fit it in. If I do well over there it will help the “Evening News.” (WCBS at 6pm is the lead-in for the Scott Pelley national broadcast) It’s not like I’m going to another network. They left the ball in my court and said, ‘If you can do it, okay.’

TVNewser: You’ll be taking one day a week off “The Early Show” How will that work? Could it extend to more?

Wragge: No, no, no. They said, ‘If you need to take a day off, take it.’

TVNewser: How is it going at “The Early Show” these days?

Wragge: As you’ve seen, and reported on, there have been a lot of changes. Has it been the smooth takeoff we hoped for? No. But we love getting up at this ridiculous hour. We have a great bond and we are great friends. And that supersedes the changes, the executive producer changes, the show changes.

TVNewser: What do you think of the new, harder format?

Wragge: It’s not your typical morning show format. But when you’re a third place show, you have to do different things. Now, do I agree with all of the changes? Not always, but it’s not my position to question that. Whatever works, I will more than willingly front. There was that 180 degree change, but things are morphing back. Each week it’s something new.

This is the nice part about it, (CBS News chairman) Jeff (Fager) and Peter Dunn, (President, CBS Television Stations, and GM of WCBS-TV) said, ‘Look we don’t want to kill this guy, but we’d like to use him at our discretion.’ I’m actually very flattered.

TVNewser: So what happens when they say, ‘we need you do to play-by-play for a Giants game? (Week 6 or 8, when Giants games are on CBS)

Wragge: If it is a Giants game I am there. You know, (CBS Sports President) Sean McManus hired me for this job and I feel loyalty to him as well. So if he calls, I’m there.

(This interview has been edited and slightly condensed)