Remembering Longtime CBS 2 Anchor, Reporter, And Adventurer Bob Wallace
CHICAGO (CBS) — We are mourning the loss of Bob Wallace, a longtime Emmy-winning reporter and anchor who injected a little fun — actually a lot of fun — into the stories he brought us at CBS 2.
We learned on Tuesday that Wallace has died.
From 1970 until 1991, Wallace informed and entertained CBS 2 News audiences as he brought them along on his adventures — and he could tell a story unlike anyone else. His feature reports took him all around Chicago and well beyond — from amid the crowds at street festivals to aboard the decks of speedboats, and from roller coasters at Six Flags Great America to the middle of a rafter of turkeys at the Ho-Ka farm each year ahead of Thanksgiving. And that barely scratches the surface.
Wallace beat the drum with the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band on St. Patrick’s Day, sang along with Fats Domino at the piano, climbed into scary-looking rotating circus contraptions, and at one point even snipped off anchorman Lester Holt’s necktie during coverage of the Taste of Chicago.
CBS 2 Vault: Cooking And Carving A Turkey With Bob Wallace
And as he pointed out in his tagline at the end of each report, he did it all for Channel 2 News.
As Wallace wrote in a mini-autobiography for the Chicago Emmys, he came to Chicago in May 1970 to work as a reporter and weekend anchor at CBS 2.
“I was 29 years old, married with two kids, and employed at the same network as Walter Cronkite,” Wallace wrote. “I thought I had it made.”
Wallace noted that after graduating from Boston University and prior to arriving at CBS 2, he was first on the air at several radio stations in Massachusetts – and then at WPRO radio in Providence, Rhode Island. Soon afterward, he was also reporting the news on CBS affiliate WPRO-TV in Providence.
“Riding with the cops, chasing politicians, and interviewing people from all walks of life – I loved it,” Wallace wrote.
Wallace wrote that he moved on to stations in Boston, Indianapolis, and Philadelphia before joining CBS 2 Chicago. Over his nearly 22 years working from our old building at 630 N. McClurg Ct., he soon transitioned from hard news reporting and the anchor desk to his renowned feature reports.
In the late 1970s, Wallace served as the anchorman for a daily news report at the top of CBS 2’s “Noonbreak” show, which was coupled with a talk show segment hosted by the late Lee Phillip. But Wallace didn’t limit himself to reading the headlines on “Noonbreak” either; in a 1978 segment, we saw him showing off his moves as he was learning how to disco dance.
Wallace also co-hosted CBS 2’s Emmy Award-winning Sunday evening news magazine program “Two on Two” alongside Harry Porterfield, Susan Anderson, Don Craig, and Robin Robinson. The program took Wallace and his co-hosts around Chicagoland and well beyond – from backstage at the Lyric Opera to the Country Music Fan Fair in Nashville, and sometimes even overseas.
Wallace also hosted a number of specials for CBS 2. In 1984, he traveled to London for the special “A Merry Olde Christmas” – a look at Christmastime legends and customs in England for kids back in Chicago. The special was nominated for an Emmy Award, and we hear that more than a few people on the streets of London recognized Wallace when they saw him.
Wallace noted that he also roamed the Midwest for the feature reporting series “Backroads,” discovering interesting people and places, and partaking for Channel 2 News in such activities as muskie fishing in the North Woods with fellow CBS 2 reporter John “Bulldog” Drummond. And on the old “First Edition” CBS 2 afternoon news show in the late 1980s, Wallace appeared for daily “Where’s Wallace?” live shots – which he called “probably the most fun my intrepid camera crews and I had.”
“We managed to ‘go live’ from atop the Hancock building antenna, scudded over the waves while clinging to the deck of a racing sailboat on Lake Michigan, and dangled from a water tower high above the ground while learning rescue techniques with first responders. We did this all with relatively primitive equipment and technology compared with the highly portable gadgets available today,” Wallace wrote. “Along the way, I was fortunate enough to win a handful of Emmys for doing what I loved.”
After moving on from CBS 2, Wallace did some freelance work, established a small video production company, and hosted the City of Chicago public information show “Chicago Works,” produced by Mayor Richard M. Daley’s press office. He also came back to visit us at CBS 2 from time to time – in 2008, he joined our morning team on the set for our last weekday morning newscast at the McClurg Court building.
Bob Sirott, now of WGN Radio, worked as CBS 2’s Entertainment and Lifestyle Editor in the 1980s. He offered his memories of Wallace on his WGN show on Tuesday.
“A very gregarious guy, a versatile reporter and anchor, and he liked to have fun and he had a good time with his reports on Channel 2 – and I think that’s one of the reasons everybody loved Bob and why he was so popular because you saw him out and about eating, drinking, and having various adventures that were all on Channel 2,” Sirott said.
Wallace won several Emmy Awards and was inducted into the Silver Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2019.
Wallace was 80 years old.
CBS 2 web producer Adam Harrington contributed to this report.