It’s showtime for ABC 7’s rising star

Terrell Brown

Terrell Brown

It was no hyperbole when the blog post announcing Terrell Brown’s hiring last spring called him WLS-Channel 7’s “anchor of the future.”

Just nine months after signing on at the ABC-owned station as a reporter, the 27-year-old newcomer is about to become anchor of Chicago’s top-rated morning newscast. Starting Monday, he’ll join co-anchor Judy Hsu, meteorologist Tracy Butler and traffic reporter Roz Varon on ABC 7 Eyewitness News This Morning from 4:30 to 7 a.m. weekdays.

Brown succeeds Hosea Sanders, who’s stepping down after 20 years on the show to launch ABC 7 Eyewitness News on WCIU, The U at 7 p.m. weeknights on Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26. With Sanders will be co-anchor Linda Yu, sports anchor Jim Rose and meteorologist Cheryl Scott.

The stakes at sunrise are high for ABC 7, which long has led the market in overall ratings but lost ground to Tribune Media WGN-Channel 9’s morning news juggernaut among viewers between 25 and 54 — the most desirable demographic to advertisers. If Brown can help rejuvenate the show and attract younger viewers, he’ll be a hero.

“I look forward to the special dynamic that is the morning news — working to build that personal relationship with viewers, finding the common touch, sharing a bit of your life while providing the best news, weather and traffic information possible,” he said. “I’m grateful to Hosea Sanders, who has set the bar high and has gone out of his way to welcome and mentor me. The opportunity to work at one of the top stations in the country, alongside such a terrific anchor team, is rare and a true blessing.”

Brown came to ABC 7 with a network pedigree and a compelling life story. The youngest of three sons of a U.S. military family, Brown spent his first five years in Germany before moving to Virginia, where he established his high school’s first weekly student-produced newscast. “I was always the strange kid who had a passion for radio and TV,” he once recalled. “Not even to be on TV. I just liked the whole creative, artistic element of building television. I liked to write. That was my big thing. I wanted to produce.”

While attending Virginia Commonwealth University (where he graduated with honors), Brown landed a part-time job as weekend morning show producer at WWBT-TV, the NBC affiliate in Richmond, Virginia. That led to an anchoring opportunity at the station and an Edward R. Murrow Award for breaking news coverage in 2009.

Later that year, CBS News beckoned with an offer to become a network correspondent through its news development program in New York, where he went on to anchor CBS News Up to the Minute and CBS Morning News. Sean McManus, then president of CBS News, called him “an aggressive reporter with a compelling on air presence.”

How good is Brown? No less an authority than Ron Magers, Chicago’s preeminent anchorman and ABC 7’s undisputed kingpin, sings his praises.

“Terrell came very highly recommended,” Magers said. “He worked on a West Coast project where my brother, Paul, met him and spoke very highly of his skills. Much as it pains me to admit it, my brother was right.”