Veteran Harry Porterfield Leaves Then Returns to Chicago TV

By Andrew Gauthier 


Veteran broadcaster Harry Porterfield is returning to WBBM, where he began his television news career over 40 years ago. WBBM welcomed him back shortly after his contract expired with ABC-owned WLS-TV. After 25 years at WLS, he signed-off from the station last Thursday (July 30). Phil Rosenthal called the event the latest casualty of the revenue crunch that’s squeezing the media business,” in his column in the Chicago Tribune.

Porterfield started off as a jazz and gospel radio disc jockey in 1955 in Saginaw, Michigan. His decision to pursue a career in television began at WKNK-TV, where he worked as a stagehand, cameraman and editor until 1964, when he was offered a job at CBS-owned WBBM-2. Porterfield spent the next 21 years at Channel 2, before joining ABC-owned WLS in 1985.

One of the events leading up to Porterfield’s departure from Channel 2 was his demotion to reporter from weeknight co-anchor, to accommodate the return of Bill Kurtis from CBS News in New York. The decision resulted in a boycott of the channel, led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The boycott sought to spotlight a need for more minority hiring both on-camera and in management.

Porterfield may be best known for his award-winning “Someone You Should Know” series, a collection of profiles on everyday people who make a difference. He created the series in 1977 at WBBM, brought it with him to WLS, and is now returning with it to CBS-2.

“Harry has a storied relationship with viewers in Chicago. It is both meaningful and important that the relationship continue,” CBS 2 News Director Jeff Kiernan said in making the announcement.

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