Harry Porterfield, dean of Chicago television news anchors whose signature series was “Someone You Should Know,” is stepping down after a legendary career spanning more than 50 years, CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 announced Thursday.
Porterfield, 87, who most recently co-anchored the 11 a.m. weekday newscast with Roseanne Tellez, made his final appearance on the air last Friday. He was on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment.
“In typical Harry fashion, he’s told us that he doesn’t want to make a big fuss or throw a party to celebrate his amazing career — even though we all know he totally deserves one,” Tellez told viewers at the end of Thursday’s newscast. “While Harry is retiring from CBS 2, he’ll always be a very important part of our family.”
Coinciding with Porterfield’s retirement at the end of the year, Tellez will shift to full-time reporting duties at CBS 2. Starting December 28, Erin Kennedy and Lionel Moise, who now co-anchor from 4:30 to 7 a.m. weekdays, will add the 11 a.m. newscast to their schedule.
Porterfield had two runs at CBS 2. The first, which began in 1964, ended in 1985 when he left after losing his Monday-through-Friday anchor position. The demotion of the station’s only African American weekday anchor sparked a 10-month viewer boycott led by Operation PUSH. The boycott ended with the signing of a covenant between CBS and Operation PUSH that resulted in the hiring of Lester Holt as a weekday anchor in August 1986.
“The first feeling I have is that I’m humbled because I was the focus of this thing, even though I wasn’t there,” Porterfield later recalled of the controversy. “I was a kind of phantom in all of this. There was a boycott there at Channel 2, there was this picket line in front of that station for 10 months. Can you believe it? Ten months . . . to bring on changes. I wasn’t there and to think that I was a catalyst for that is really kind of overwhelming.”
ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 immediately picked up Porterfield, who spent the next 24 years there before rejoining CBS 2 in 2009.
A native of Saginaw, Michigan, and graduate of Eastern Michigan University, Porterfield began his career as a jazz disc jockey at WKNX Radio in Saginaw. After working various jobs at WKNX-TV, he joined CBS 2 as a news writer, and later moved up to reporter, anchor and program host. He launched his “Someone You Should Know” profile series in 1977.
In 1993 Porterfield earned a law degree from DePaul University School of Law.
Winner of 11 regional Emmy Awards, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Journalism Award and a Studs Terkel Award, Porterfield was inducted in the the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1998.