ABC 7 cuts Janet Davies as host, entertainment reporter

Janet Davies

After nearly four decades as arts and entertainment reporter, program host and the face of New Year’s Eve on Chicago television, Janet Davies has parted company with ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7.

Davies announced the news in a Facebook post Friday. She confirmed in a text message that she would not be back as host of ABC 7’s New Year’s Eve countdown this year.

“It has been an honor and a joy to have worked at 190 North State Street for 37 years,” Davies wrote, referring to the Loop studios of ABC 7. “To have had such breadth and depth in a broadcasting career is humbling. Many at the station have been dear colleagues for years and working with them always made me better. Chicago viewers are kind, enlightening and their stories will forever have meaning and import.”

ABC 7 Chicago

Her surprise post followed the station’s decision not to renew her contract as a freelance employee. Her status as a full-time employee ended in 2013 after ABC 7 cancelled her long-running weekly show “190 North.”

Calling Davies “a significant force in Chicago broadcasting for nearly four decades,” John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7, said: “If you live in Chicago, you know Janet and recognize her as a champion of the arts, a savvy entertainment reporter and the engaging host of many critically acclaimed and top-rated ABC 7 specials.

“We are thankful for the outstanding body of work Janet has contributed to ABC 7 and Chicago viewers. We, like Janet, look forward to the Chicago theater community return to the stage. We wish Janet all the best in her next chapter.”

Davies, who was born in Richmond, Virginia, and graduated from Miami University, joined ABC 7 in 1984 from WPVI, the ABC-owned station in Philadelphia. Earlier she worked for WBNS, the CBS affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, and WKRC, then the ABC affiliate in Cincinnati.

In addition to the 14 years she spent as host and executive producer of “190 North,” Davies was known as co-host of ABC 7’s Pride Parade, Columbus Day Parade and St. Patrick’s Day Parade specials — all of which were sidelined this year because of the pandemic.

Mark Giangreco and Janet Davies

Davies’s biggest annual showcase was the top-rated New Year’s Eve countdown show she has hosted since 1991. For the past two decades her co-host has been Mark Giangreco. (Coincidentally, Giangreco has been missing in action as ABC 7’s sports anchor since late January with no explanation.)

The winner of 16 Emmy Awards, Davies was inducted in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2013. In 2016 she received the Chicago Legend Award from Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival.

Here is the full text of Davies’s Facebook post:

COVID certainly has had an impact in some way on everyone. My heart goes out to those affected in big and little ways. With me, well, my time has come to an end with ABC7.

It has been an honor and a joy to have worked at 190 North State Street for 37 years. To have had such breadth and depth in a broadcasting career is humbling. Many at the station have been dear colleagues for years and working with them always made me better. Chicago viewers are kind, enlightening and their stories will forever have meaning and import.

I was thinking about highlights, but every news story, 190North, programming show, etc. WAS a highlight.

For now, I will not be looking backward but forward. That’s just me. Stay tuned. Plots and plans afoot.

And, no, I thankfully have not had the virus. CDC guidelines rule!

Also, please support the Chicago area theatre/music/dance and art communities when they come roaring back – which they will sooner rather than later. We all need to be refreshed and rewired.