A run for the books — and considering the volatility in local TV news, maybe the ages — will end next month when Chuck Scarborough steps down as co-anchor of WNBC/4’s 11 p.m. newscast. The station announced that Scarborough will end a 42-year run in that slot on July 13, and will be replaced by Stefan Holt, son of “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, starting July 17.
Scarborough, 73, will continue to co-anchor the 6 p.m. newscast.
“Chuck has set the standard for broadcasting excellence in New York,” said WNBC President Eric Lerner in a statement. “His connection with our viewers is very special, and I am thrilled that Chuck will continue to co-anchor our 6 p.m. newscasts. We look forward to Chuck’s many contributions at WNBC for years to come.”
Exactly how many years was not announced, although for a New York career measured in decades, Scarborough likely won’t be going anywhere for a while. After a brief run in Boston, he joined channel 4 on March 25, 1974, initially as solo anchor of a new show called “News Center 4” at 5 p.m. Eight months later, he was named 11 p.m. anchor. Natalie Pasquarella has been his co-anchor at 11 p.m. since October.
Scarborough’s 11 p.m. run is iconic and unmatched, also certainly abetted by his longtime co-anchor, Sue Simmons, who left in 2013 after 32 years alongside him. In a business where anchors are cycled through stations and “markets,” and where the “book” — the local ratings sweeps reports — determines fates or at least careers, Scarborough has overcome all odds, and the occasional urge to move on, too. He considered dropping his 11 p.m. chores as far back as 1990, but got a raise and a promise to produce other shows as a condition for staying.
The 11 p.m. slot — more than the 6 p.m. — has long been the prestige telecast, notably the one that leads into “Tonight.” For many years, New York viewers associated Scarborough with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno as much as they did Simmons.
Scarborough, who maintains homes in Southampton and Connecticut, couldn’t be reached for comment, but a station representative said, “Chuck made this decision on his own and our station is supportive of [his] decision.”