ABC 7 Chicago finalizes its latest anchor changes

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WLS in Chicago has announced its plans for new anchor lineups, officially deciding on replacements for the slots vacated by Alan Krashesky’s November 2022 retirement.

The new lineup continues a trend of mixing anchor pairing during the afternoon, early evening, evening and late news.

Rob Elgas, is taking Krashesky’s place at 10 p.m. alongside Cheryl Burton starting March 6, 2023. He will also continue to co-anchor the 4 p.m. with Judy Hsu and a 7 p.m. streaming one next to Burton.

Meanwhile, longtime ABC 7 anchor Ravi Baichwal will move from weekend evenings to the 5 and 6 p.m. He will appear next to Burton at 5 and Hsu at 6 p.m.

Elgas was lured away from the NBC-owned WMAQ in 2015, becoming a reporter and fill-in anchor. His appearances behind the anchor desk have continued over the years.

Baichawl has been with the station since 2006, mostly assigned to weekends, though he also appeared as both a reporter and substitute anchor on various newscasts over the years.

The announcements complete the exit strategy of Krashesky, who retired after 40 years at WLS in November.

After Krashesky left, Elgas seemed the most likely replacement given recent hiring decisions. Baichwal, meanwhile, has a longer tenure at the station than Elgas. His promotion also means that the station has another person of color behind the anchor desk during several key timeslots.

ABC 7 Chicago has a long history of leading the market in local news. It also has carefully orchestrated multiple high-profile talent retirements over the years, including Linda Yu, Ron Magers, Kathy Brock and forecaster Jerry Taft in most recent years.

The station largely appears to have at least somewhat of a strategy for replacements when high-profile talent departs, with at least one candidate seemingly waiting in the wings and, most often, already familiar to viewers.

That was perhaps most evident in the years leading up to both Magers and Brock’s separate retirements when Burton was made “contributing anchor” at 10 p.m, ushering in a time period for viewers to get more familiar with her.

The station also appears to be sticking with its pattern of mixing anchors throughout the key afternoon, early evening and evening blocks, with Elgas, Burton, Hsu and Baichwall rotating chairs throughout these timeslots.

In many markets, the station anchors helm the primary evening newscast, typically at 6 p.m., and late newscast at either 10 or 11 p.m.

WLS, however, has long divvied up anchoring duties for some time among the 4, 5, 6 and 10 p.m. timeslots, as well as the more recently introduced 7 p.m. streaming broadcast.

More stations, particularly in larger markets, have been experimenting alternating or mixing talent more, however. In at least some cases, this likely is strategic and helps get more anchors exposure to viewers, which can be key when it comes time for someone to retire or depart.

Mixing anchors around similar times can help bring variety for viewers, as well as giving anchors a break between newscasts.

WLS has also lost weekend anchor Stacey Baca in mid-2022. Her weekend morning spot beside Mark Rivera was filled later that year by Samantha Chatman, who joined the station as a weekday morning consumer anchor and reporter. Chatman continues to contribute consumer and investigative reporting the station.