ABC 7 signs sports anchor Mark Giangreco to three-year renewal

Mark Giangreco

Now in his 25th year at WLS-Channel 7, Mark Giangreco will continue as lead sports anchor at the top-rated ABC-owned station under a three-year renewal signed Tuesday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sources said Giangreco, 67, will remain the highest-paid local sportscaster in America. It’s believed he’ll dip below the million-dollar annual salary of his previous agreement with the ABC-owned station, which expired Monday.

“I just appreciate the opportunity to keep on rolling and having more fun — without getting suspended,” Giangreco told me. He added that he was pleased to be “working for a station that continues to be the glowing exception to the rule when it comes to this challenging new world of local television.”

While many other local stations are reducing their commitment to sports in their newscasts, Giangreco’s renewal represents a substantial vote of confidence.

John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7, declined to comment.

Giangreco’s longtime agent, attorney Joel Weisman, fielded interest from at least two other stations in Chicago before finalizing the renewal. Weisman also engineered the blockbuster agreement that brought Giangreco to ABC 7 in 1994 after 12 years at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.

The Buffalo native and University of Dayton graduate is known for his quick wit, unbridled sarcasm and often irreverent remarks:

  • In 2017 Giangreco was slapped with a multi-week suspension for a tweet in which he called President Donald Trump a “cartoon lunatic” and referred to Trump voters as “simpletons.”
  • In 2014 he apologized for airing a graphic over his shoulder that offended some viewers for its allusion to suicide. A photo of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was captioned: “Cut him or cut your wrists.” Later Giangreco said: “My remarks were inappropriate, and I deeply regret and apologize for this incident.”
  • In 2004, he was suspended one week for joking about Detroit going up in flames after the Pistons won the NBA Championship. Over a black-and-white movie clip of a city burning, he called it a “typical night for Detroit.”
  • In 1999, he joked that Chicago Bears legend Walter Payton looked “shriveled up,” without knowing that Payton was suffering a fatal liver disease at the time.

He’s also become a local icon for his New Year’s Eve countdown broadcasts with Janet Davies. After 18 years together, their annual midnight smooch has evolved into a social media sensation.