It looks like the CBS EARLY SHOW anchors got a big lump of coal for Christmas this year. CBS axed the veteran anchor Harry Smith, as well as Maggie Rodriquez and weatherman Dave Price in favor of Erica Hill and Chris Wragge. Erica Hill has been a rising star in recent years, who was a bright spot over at CNN, as well as helping out the weekend edition of the EARLY SHOW on Saturday morning while Maggie Rodriquez was on maternity leave as well. It’s not hard to see how Erica Hill will be a far better presence on the show than Harry Smith. She’s intelligent, sexy, warm and funny. She’s simply magnetic. Harry Smith is certainly an intelligent and credible newsman, but he’s about as exciting as watching paint dry. He brings just about zero charisma to the screen compared to the infectious personality of Erica Hill.
Dave Price’s star has been falling for a while. A few years ago he lost out to comic Drew Carey to take over hosting THE PRICE IS RIGHT after longtime host Bob Barker annnounced his retirement from that gig. Yet, Price seemed like a fairly popular presence on the CBS EARLY SHOW, so his termination is a bit of a surprise. And Maggie Rodriquez is a likable presence as well. Not a bad personality either.
But, CBS is hoping to shuffle a few chairs on the deck and shore up their news ratings. Long held whispers are that down the road Katie Couric may be the next in line to be axed when her contract is up because of her soft ratings once CBS finds a suitable replacement.
Katie Couric’s contract has so far cost CBS not only $60 million dollars, but has also resulted in the worst CBS evening news ratings in 20 years, despite critical acclaim for her and team for excellent reporting. That puts CBS in a real quandary. Couric and her team are quality journalists, but viewers just don’t care to watch her and prefer the other network’s news instead. Almost with certainty, this will be her very last year. CBS probably considers her five year deal with the network a real ratings disaster.
It’s somewhat hard to put a finger on why Katie Couric has been such a ratings failure for CBS, but part of the reason might be that some folks simply don’t like her personality. Another problem might be that many of the shows on the CBS network draw bigger numbers among politically conservative Americans, and Katie Couric might be viewed as being too politically liberal for their tastes after some milestone news coverage events such as the Sarah Palin interview after John McCain chose her as his 2008 running mate. Regardless, CBS has lost so much of it’s evening news audience that rebuilding the ratings will be a difficult and uphill climb task.