CBS Chicago hires former WGN, NewsNation anchor, moves Brad Edwards to streamer

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WBBM, CBS’s perennial underperforming owned station in Chicago has hired another former NewsNation personality — a move that will send current co-anchor Brad Edwards to the station’s streaming initiative.

Joe Donlon has signed on at WBBM, the station announced April 6, 2022.

Donlon originally came to Chicago to co-anchor at WGN, the then Tribune-owned station in the market known for producing well-rated newscasts despite not having a big three affiliation.

When Nexstar bought the station and cable channel WGN America, Donlon was announced as co-anchor of “NewsNation,” the three-hour primetime newscast the cable channel launched in September 2020.

After only a few months, Donlon was moved off the three-hour show and given his own broadcast “The Donlon Report” in January 2021 that incorporated commentary and analysis.

Fast forward to the spring of 2022 and the network, which took on the name NewsNation in March 2021, and the newscasts continue to struggle in the ratings and chief meteorologist Albert Ramon and co-anchor Rob Nelson had also departed. Prior to that multiple high-profile newsroom leaders left, including Jennifer Lyons, the former news director for WGN who later landed at WBBM as general manager.

Over at WBBM, the station let primary co-anchor Rob Johnson go in March 2019 after years of disappointing ratings and replaced him with investigative reporter Brad Edwards alongside Irika Sargent.

Now, the station says Edwards been named primary anchor and “chief storyteller” for its CBS News Chicago streaming service, de-emphasizing the fact that the move is essentially a demotion.

Donlon will take over Edwards’ spot at the desk next to Sargent starting May 2, 2022. He’ll anchor at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

The hire reunites Donlon with Lyons, though Lyons is one level up in the org chart as GM. He’ll also join former NewsNation personality Ramon, who is now the station’s chief meteorologist.

WBBM has a track record of being one of CBS’s most underperforming stations when it comes to local news.

Over the years, a seemingly endless rotation of execs and anchors have passed through its doors and the station has tried numerous changes to format, content, sets, graphics and talent, including an splashy but infamous 2001 overhaul that only lasted about a year.

Donlon’s hire will bring a familiar face to viewers, though some may have forgotten about him in the years since he left WGN.