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WCBS Grand/WCBS-TV Retrospective (c. 2001)

a screengrab of a close from WCBS-TV in September of 2001 showing the "information center" portion of the studio in September 2001

I guess in iOS 14 (of which I am still on thankyamuch), they added some stuff to my Music app… which means Apple can apply DRM based on metadata…

Which means jamming to a WCBS Grand theme that I found somewhere that I don’t think was Edd Kalehoff’s site is now banned on my device (unless I resync my iTunes library and ensure my iPad doesn’t attempt to phone home to Apple to update my library’s metadata…

Regardless what a way to introduce you to the theme that the CBS flagship station ran 2 decades ago (yes 2 decades ago…)

The theme package (which later was a derivative for the Showcase Showdown in The Price is Right when Drew Carey took over in 2007) premiered for WCBS-TV in May of 2000. The graphics package was updated to some of the CBS typeface (Diot) and the lower thirds had a contemporary look for the time using Bell Gothic. The station was still recovering from massive PR damage from the 1996 mass firings of long time air talent.

For the CBS company, WCBS-TV was actually implementing a tabloid news format, the idea similar to WBBM-TV in Chicago within the previous decade. But they brought the daddy of the 7 News format, Joel Cheatwood to head the news (as well as overseeing the news across the 20something other O&Os.) In early 2001, the station rebranded yet again to CBS 2 News and built themselves as the CBS 2 Information Network, using “content partners” and aggressive promotion the station’s website at the time CBSNewYork.com (yes this domain existed well before the 2010s and was used for a while.)

So how did CBS 2 News go about being a 7 News for the Tristate? It was actually characterized more watered-down than WHDH, WSVN’s sister station, the latter station which was the queen in drama for the 7 News format. In the case of the format, one could argue it was just sassy Chyrons and one line readers than say the really notorious flashiness that was even for WBBM-TV standards. CBS allowed this Chicago experiment to last for first half of the 1990s. In reality, the CBS 2 News experiment was a visual ethos of Cheatwood’s if-it-bleed-it-leads (in fact that ethos belongs to him, so always cite Joel Cheatwood to that line!)

In late summer of 2001, Studio 43 at the CBS Broadcast Center had been the home for WCBS-TV, and for about a couple of years the station was based at the studios of The Early Show in a smaller but separate studio on 5th Ave. Given the set for The NFL Today and NCAA Saturday coverage, this meant Studio 43 was empty for the rest of the week. The set had elements of what you saw on the dual Sunbeam stations. A Newsplex. I guess Cheatwood had bribed the CBS management to get Studio 43 to be used outside the weekends for the use of the local news.

For the weekends on the national level, unless you had a sharp eye, could you tell it was dual studio, but the CBS 2 Information Network branding was on the upper part of the set. The single Eye in front of the anchor desk obviously should’ve told you it could be used for more than just one use. From my research and understanding, while New Yorkers was under the impression that channel 2 was “in new digs”, Studio 46 was under some rebuild and construction, because according to the notes on the 2003 set, it was actually in the works around this time (late 2001.)

Within a couple weeks, the format would, without avoiding puns would severely change. September 11th.

Unfortunately the last decent CBS 2 News close before the world changed had to occur on that day too.

a nice one minute close of the infamous local news sounding like an 11:00 am game show (by no means am I trashing WCBS Grand, I’m still pissed my iPad is so smart to ban it!) A commenter that maybe your humble minifig newsie wrote earlier in the year…

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR REPOSTING THIS CLOSE!

If someone had happen to see this close, low key melody of WCBS Grand with an upbeat tone – this may had been stuck in their head right thru the first attack. I bet anyone who had to witness a stretched close like that again must think the day is too good to be true and that the world would be ending. I for one would be likely be in that camp.”

The format then got watered down significantly as 2001 came to a close (the unfortunate plane crash in Brooklyn in November 2001 just made people more anx’d), but it wasn’t to say the format lived on for at least another year. The summer of 2002 came to a strong end on Labor Day weekend; after the entire Northeast had experienced hotter and dryer than usual temperatures and low perception. My mother and I was homesitting my aunt’s apartment in Stamford, and so I had watched most of Channel 2’s newscast. (Some of which happens to be in Sloan’s TV archive youtube of late August of ’02). If memory serves me, it was actually on Labor Day the coldfront came and hit the region, and U.S. Open had be halted, and it had the sassy chyron titled I think teasing the Noon wheel

“‘Flushing’ Meadows”

Not a year later, did punny stuff appear on screen again. By January of 2003, the station left Studio 43 and returned back Studio 46 with a new set, a dark blue graphics, etc.

On that note, enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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