WBBM-TV manages to screw up a landmark
It’s been a couple of decades since WBBM-TV (“CBS2” in consultant-speak) made much of an impact on the city of Chicago. It’s ratings have been in the crapper for years. Its analog signal is barely visible even just a mile away from the transmitter. And digital? Forget about it.
As a former CBS -> Westinghouse -> CBS employee, I have a soft spot for the Tiffany Network. I looked forward to a new age of Eye greatness starting with the opening of the new CBS2 Broadcast Studios at 22 West Washington. I should have known I would be disappointed.
The Skyline lets us know that CBS has chickened out. Again. Instead of giving us an 80-foot-wide video screen wrapping around its corner of Block 37, WBBM-TV will instead have a video screen that’s less than half that wide. And it doesn’t wrap. Oh, and it’s shorter, too.
I never worked for CBS in Chicago, but I have several friends who have and do. They say it’s typical of the way things run there these days — take a big, important, brilliant plan and beat it into a homogenized, non-offensive, piece of who-gives-a-crap. They say the video screen is emblematic of the state of the news that comes out of there: small, lackluster, full of potential, but ultimately a child of compromise.
The Trib says there were complaints about the screen. It’s typical of local television stations to be hyper-sensitive to any little fringe group with an acronym and a word processor, but it’s unclear if that’s the reason CBS changed its great plans into mediocre plans. Even the architects presented CBS with several dramatic alternatives if a smaller screen must be used. Not surprisingly, these experts were ignored and the station decided to play architect and stick the screen centered above its studio.
Good job, WBBM-TV. Once again you’ve proven to Chicago that you’re a non-factor.