NBC 5 names Leila Rahimi main sports anchor

Leila Rahimi

Leila Rahimi is about to make history again.

Last year the Chicago sportscaster broke a 29-year gender barrier when she became the first woman to host a Monday-through-Friday daytime shift on WSCR 670-AM, the Audacy sports/talk station.

Now Rahimi, 38, is about to become the first woman to be named main sports anchor at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. She’s been working part-time for NBC 5 since last fall while co-hosting middays on The Score with Dan Bernstein.

On Tuesday NBC 5 announced Rahimi will move up to full-time at NBC 5, starting April 4, essentially filling the role last held by Siafa Lewis, who left in November to become a news anchor in Philadelphia.

In addition to co-anchoring “Sports Sunday” with Mike Berman, Rahimi will anchor sports on the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts Monday through Thursday.

Mike Berman

Coinciding with Rahimi’s promotion, Northbrook native Berman will become weekend sports anchor and work three days a week as sports reporter. Jeff Blanzy will continue part-time, anchoring sports at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. Fridays.

“Chicago is a huge sports town and we’re dedicated to delivering the best sports coverage to our viewers,” Frank Whittaker, station manager and vice president of news at NBC 5, said in a statement. “Leila adds great experience and unique perspective to our newsroom. Mike’s passion for his hometown teams shines through in his storytelling in a way that connects with local fans.”

After crisscrossing the country, the Texas-born Rahimi came to Chicago in 2015 when she joined Comcast SportsNet Chicago (forerunner of NBC Sports Chicago) as an anchor, host and reporter.

In a twist of fate, she was laid off from NBC Sports Chicago as part of company-wide cutbacks in 2020 by Kevin Cross, then senior vice president and general manager of NBC Sports Chicago. Now as president and general manager of NBC 5, Cross is responsible for bringing her back into the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations fold.

NBC 5’s gain may be seen as The Score’s loss, with Rahimi relinquishing her full-time hosting role at the station. Bernstein is expected to continue as solo host, with Rahimi making weekly guest appearances on the midday show.

“Leila will be in studio each and every Wednesday [from 9 a.m. to noon], co-hosting with Dan and adding great commentary and her unique perspective on the world of sports,” Mitch Rosen, operations director and brand manager of The Score, told staffers in an email.

“Leila is a tremendous asset to The Score, and we are grateful she remains a big part of our team and that Score listeners will continue to hear Leila across all of our platforms.”