CBS 2’s Jay Levine: ‘It’s time for me to shift gears’

Jay Levine

Jay Levine

Jay Levine, a hard-charging dynamo of Chicago television news for 42 years, announced Wednesday he’s stepping down as chief correspondent of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2.

Levine, 68, will continue to appear occasionally as a “special contributor” to the station, but details of his new role are still being discussed, according to a CBS 2 spokeswoman.

“After 42 years on the beat in Chicago, going into battle day after day with and against our competitors, fighting those who’d rather spin than speak the truth, covering emerging trends, bitter conflicts, lifestyle changes, and personalities, it’s time for me to shift gears,” Levine wrote in an email to colleagues.

Calling Levine “a leader in our newsroom,” Jeff Kiernan, news director of CBS 2, said in a statement: “While I’m sorry to see him step away from our daily broadcasts, I’m thrilled that he has agreed to remain with his CBS family and continue to contribute to our station.”

Marty Wilke, president and general manager of CBS 2, said in a statement: “Jay represents the epitome of what it means to be a journalist. He’s curious, tenacious and unapologetic in his mission to get the story and get it right.  I know he has a lot more stories to tell and I’m glad he has chosen to stay with CBS 2 for this next phase of his journalism career.”

Jay Levine (1987)

Jay Levine (1987)

Levine joined CBS 2 in 1990 after 16 years at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. A New York native who studied engineering at Cornell University, he began his career as a radio reporter for WHCU in Ithaca, New York, and later worked as a reporter for WCAU in Philadelphia.

He won a national Emmy Award in 2005 for reports on the death of Pope John Paul II as well as 11 local Emmy Awards. In 2015 he was cited by the Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards with an Excellence in Investigative Journalism Award.

Levine is married to Mary Ann Childers, former news anchor at CBS 2 and ABC 7. The two will be among nine veteran broadcasters to be inducted in May in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Here is the text of Levine’s letter:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

After 42 years on the beat in Chicago, going into battle day after day with and against our competitors, fighting those who’d rather spin than speak the truth, covering emerging trends, bitter conflicts, lifestyle changes, and personalities, it’s time for me to shift gears.

I’ve asked Marty and Jeff to allow me to concentrate on special coverage of special events, special assignments, and special interviews – and they have agreed.

As I reflect on my 26 years here at CBS2 (following 16 at ABC7), the common thread which binds them all together is change; in our city, our country, the world and our craft.

I remember having to wait 40 minutes for film to be developed. Now, our coverage is instantaneous, whether it’s from Little Village or Vatican City.

I have been honored with a front row seat for change in Chicago, covering the elections of Jane Byrne, Harold Washington, Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel.

I have been in Rome for the death of one Pope and the elections of two others; covering one who fought for Democracy, another currently battling for social justice.

I have been on the scene for two wars in the Persian Gulf, the continuing conflict in the Middle East, Martial Law in Poland and Council Wars here in Chicago.

I still love the chase and the thrill of getting something no one else has. Most of all, I enjoy getting the story right!

Leaving something you love is never easy. Knowing when to leave is even more difficult.

In short, while change has been the one constant over the past 42 years, I am not immune. For me, too, it’s time for a change.

I’ll no longer be with you every day, but I’ll be watching, and contributing, taking a longer view or a closer look at events as they unfold.

I will shift my focus from the 24/7/365 commitment to a more targeted approach, making time to celebrate my father’s upcoming 100th birthday, my daughter’s exciting career at Amazon, and most of all, the love of my life, Mary Ann, who makes it all worthwhile.

For me, the New Year marks a new beginning – professionally and personally.

Thank you all for your support, your guidance, and your friendship. The best times for CBS2 are ahead. The pieces are in place. I hope to remain one of them, with just a slightly different fit.

Jay