Take a good look at this woman’s face. Who knows if you’ll ever see it again.
On Sept. 30, Natalie Bomke will join WFLD-Channel 32 as co-anchor of “Good Day Chicago” from 5 to 7 a.m. Monday through Friday. Judging by the ratings, she’d probably be spotted by more people if she joined the witness protection program.
In the latest Nielsen numbers, the Fox-owned station has been averaging a paltry 0.4 rating among adults between 25 and 54 for the two-hour time slot. That’s not only dead last in the market, it’s 20 percent down from the same period last year.
Into this black hole steps the 31-year-old Bomke, who’s spent the last three years at KRIV-TV, the Fox station in Houston. That also happens to be the last place of employment for Tom Doerr, who came to Fox 32 in February, becoming the station’s fourth news director in four years. More on him later.
Bomke, whose hiring was first reported Wednesday by Scott Jones of FTVLive.com, will replace Kori Chambers alongside Dawn Hasbrouck on the early morning anchor desk. Chambers, who’d been hired with high hopes in 2008, apparently got tired of waiting around for a promotion that never happened. On Thursday, he packed up and headed home to New York for a more promising anchor job with Tribune Broadcasting’s WPIX-TV.
Political cognoscenti may recognize Bomke’s name because her father, Larry, was a member of the Illinois Senate for 18 years. He retired earlier this year to concentrate on his insurance business after his district boundaries were changed. A Republican representing the Springfield area, he once championed a bill to get William Ayers fired as a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Young Natalie grew up in Springfield, where she won a ribbon in the Illinois State Fair for the longest ponytail and was a runner-up in the Miss Illinois pageant before going on to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. TV news jobs in Springfield and Champaign brought her to KTXL-TV, the Fox affiliate in Sacramento, Calif., in 2007. There she was voted “Sacramento’s sexiest female newscaster,” garnering 37 percent of the vote in a field of six. “It’s definitely something that I would put on my resume,” she told Bernard Schoenburg of the State Journal-Register. Said her mother, Sally Jo: “We would rather she had been recognized for her talent, but I’m tickled pink anyway.”
Maybe she’ll be recognized for her talent here.
Word around Fox 32 is that Doerr has bigger plans for Bomke than burying her on the lowest-rated morning show in town. Some say he wants to move her up to the 9 p.m. weekday newscast, where she would replace 26-year veteran anchor Robin Robinson. That would team Bomke with Jeff Herndon, who was just hired from KAKE-TV in Wichita, Kansas, (Market No. 67) to replace Bob Sirott. (Ironically, the last ratings book showed an uptick in key demos for Robinson and Sirott at 9 p.m.)
Just imagine: “Fox 32 News at 9 with Jeff Herndon and Natalie Bomke.” Makes you giddy with excitement, doesn’t it?
Whether Doerr and general manager Dennis Welsh, who arrived 10 months ago from the Fox station in Orlando, can pull it off ultimately may depend on how long they last in their own jobs. Given the sorry parade of Fox general managers and news directors who’ve passed in and out of here in the last few years, I wouldn’t bet on it.