Meteorologist Cheryl Scott will move up to the 10 p.m. Monday-through-Friday newscast on WLS-Channel 7, the ABC-owned station announced Wednesday.
Scott, 31, who joined ABC 7 in 2014 after three years as weekend weather forecaster at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, will add the 10 p.m. newscast to her duties, starting August 1. She also will appear on ABC 7’s 4 and 5 p.m. newscasts.
Chief meteorologist Jerry Taft, 73, a 32-year veteran of ABC 7, will give up the 10 p.m. slot and appear on the station’s 6 p.m. newscast and on Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26’s 7 p.m. newscast, which is produced by ABC 7. Taft, who publicly has denied plans to retire, recently signed a one-year contract extension, according to station sources.
“Jerry is a fantastic meteorologist and knows Chicago weather inside and out,” Scott said in a statement. “He’s also a good friend and mentor. I’m honored to continue working with Jerry and the rest of our weather team as I take on the 10 p.m. newscast.”
Taft said in a statement: “After all the late nights doing weather for more than 20 years, I’m really looking forward to handing off the late shift to someone who is as passionate about weather as Cheryl Scott. It will be great to get home at a decent hour and hit the sack earlier. Maybe the extra sleep will improve my golf game.”
John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7, along with Jennifer Graves, vice president and news director, have been planning the transition for nearly two years. News first broke here in October 2014 that Idler was looking to hire Scott as Taft’s eventual successor on the marquee 10 p.m. newscast.
The latest Nielsen ratings show ABC 7 ahead in total viewership at 10 p.m. with 246,739 households, followed by NBC 5 with 198,086 households. CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and Tribune Media WGN-Channel 9 are tied with 86,880 households. But among viewers between 25 and 54, the group tied most closely to advertising revenue, NBC 5 holds a 17 percent advantage over ABC 7.
Scott’s promotion marks the second change in as many months to the front-line talent roster at ABC 7. In May, legendary anchorman Ron Magers retired after 35 years in Chicago television, prompting the pairing of Alan Krashesky and Kathy Brock as 10 p.m. news anchors. Mark Giangreco continues as sports anchor.
A native of Atco, New Jersey, Scott graduated from Brown University and received her meteorology certification from Mississippi State University. She joined NBC 5 in September 2011 from WBIR, the NBC affiliate in Knoxville, Tennessee, jumping from the country’s No. 61 television market to No. 3. Her move to ABC 7 followed in December 2014.