Meet Jeff Glor, the Next (and Youngest) 'CBS Evening News' Anchor
"You can respect the past and also look toward the future," says the incoming anchor, who is not a household name but has the network betting on his news chops and youthful appeal.
When CBS News announced the selection of Jeff Glor as the next Evening News anchor Oct. 25, the story did not make much of a splash in a news pond that has been dominated by stories of sexual harassment by powerful people and Russian involvement in U.S. elections. But, in some ways, the network's low-key announcement was fitting — both as an illustration of the diminished star power exuded by evening news anchors, and, in particular, for a journalist who seems to care more about the story than himself.
Glor, sometime "later this year" (according to the network), will take the anchor's chair that's been kept warm by Anthony Mason since Scott Pelley unceremoniously transitioned out of the role in June. While he isn't yet a household name in the way previous Evening News anchors Dan Rather or Katie Couric were, Glor impressed the big bosses at CBS News by demonstrating an ability to report and anchor on both digital and linear platforms.
"For us, the most important thing is he's cut out for the work," CBS News president David Rhodes told The Hollywood Reporter shortly after the announcement. "He has had this range of experiences in his time here. I think, for instance, he can do great work in the field, and we should be looking at more opportunities to get him out doing that even once he's anchoring the broadcast full-time." (Glor anchored Monday's CBS Evening News from Sutherland Springs, Texas, the site of the country's latest mass shooting.)
An executive who has worked on the Evening News called Glor "a classic David Rhodes pick," and said that Rhodes "seems to think the anchor isn’t that critical in the evening." Internally, the appointment of Glor was greeted fairly warmly. The pick, one employee said, "made the most sense" — not a exactly rousing endorsement, but one network brass can likely live with.
"Look, the fact that you don't know [Glor] is clearly not great news for CBS, or any of the evening news stations, or television overall, and certainly broadcast news," former MSNBC anchor Cenk Uygur said of the pick on his Young Turks show. "But it could be potentially a good thing. Maybe they picked the guy out of nowhere because he's really great, and who cares that we haven't heard of him? That's better than picking some stupid star."
One of Glor's primary attributes is his age: 42. Since his appointment was announced, he's been compared to ABC World News anchor David Muir, who is 43 and had a comparably low national profile when picked for the big job. (ABC News does not think the comparison is particularly apt.)
Asked in an interview whether he will consciously try to attract younger viewers to the broadcast, Glor told THR simply, "We want as many people as possible."
He added that he'll put his stamp on the broadcast and make long-haul changes, but won't turn his back on what has made the show successful. "You can respect the past and also look toward the future," he said. "We can do that."
Glor said he will be "conscious" of ratings, but won't overdue it. The CBS Evening News has been mired in third place in the broadcast news ratings for a while now — for the week of Oct. 23, the show brought in 6.22 million total viewers, compared with 8.14 million for NBC Nightly News and 8.46 million for pack leader ABC World News.
All three broadcasts are going up against industry-wide changes in television-watching habits, and it would unreasonable to expect any particular anchor to bring back the good old days before cable news, when the networks were the only ball game in town. While the networks love to compete, Glor said he doesn't see evening news ratings as a zero-sum, them-or-us game. "I got a nice note from Tom Brokaw," he said. "He believes that a healthy evening news cast everywhere helps everyone, and I think that's true."
Mason was considered a leading candidate for the role, and he'll continue with the company as CBS News' senior national correspondent and co-host of CBS This Morning: Saturday once he hands the weeknight baton to Glor. Rhodes has praised Mason's performance in the job, and said that "he's a very versatile player here," something like a utility infielder in baseball that can excel at multiple positions.
"He's a class act, and I've learned from him," Glor said of Mason.
Before getting the call from CBS News, Glor proved himself and impressed his colleagues on a local level, first in Syracuse and then Boston.
"You could tell Jeff stood out from the rest of the bunch, regardless of experience," said Mark Nicotra, a New York politician who worked with him at the Syracuse NBC affiliate in the late 1990s and early 2000s. "He had a presence that wasn't like he was just out of school."
Nicotra said he's not surprised that Glor has ascended to the top of his profession. "I think all of the career moves he's made are to get to this point," he said.
HLN anchor Erica Hill worked with Glor at CBS and said she recently had a chance to catch up with her friend when they were randomly seated next to each other on a flight back from Tampa on Sept. 12. Both were in Florida to cover the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
Glor, she said, didn't give off the sense at the time that he knew he was going to get the anchor job, but she admitted that he has a pretty good poker face.
"I think he fits in very well with the values of CBS News, and always has," Hill said. "As a fellow journalist and his friend on a personal level, I'm very happy for him, and I think he definitely has the experience to sit in that chair and do them proud."
Both Nicotra and Hill confirmed that while polished and newsman-like on air, Glor is a real person off-camera.
"He doesn't take himself too seriously, but he takes his job very seriously," Hill said. "And I think that's an important balance."