'The Girl' and 'The Big Tuna': Kathy Brock reflects on anchoring alongside Floyd Kalber

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In 1993, after three years of getting up at 2:30 a.m. to anchor the morning show with Alan Krashesky here at ABC7, Kathy was promoted. Kathy reflected on anchoring the 6 p.m. show (WLS)

It was 1993 and after three years of getting up at 2:30 a.m. to anchor the morning show with Alan Krashesky here at ABC7, Kathy was promoted, moving her broadcast time 12 hours later, to do the 6 p.m. news.

But her new assignment would come with a sizeable caveat: Kathy would be sitting alongside Floyd Kalber, a.k.a. the "Big Tuna," a nickname inspired by a Chicago mob boss.

If that wasn't intimidating enough, Kalber's solo act had dominated the ratings with his commanding presence and no-nonsense delivery.

"I remember calling him up after they told me they were putting me on the 6:00 with him and saying, 'I'm so excited to work with you, Mr. Kalber, I hope it's good for you,'" Kathy said with a laugh. "And he said, 'Well I don't know about that,' but he said, 'It's certainly a good thing for you.'"

Floyd gave Kathy a special welcome on their first broadcast together.

Floyd: "Before the news, you might be used to seeing Kathy Brock at 6 o'clock in the morning on Channel 7. Kathy now is joining us at 6 o'clock in the evening on Channel 7 to do this newscast each day. Kathy is a good reporter and newscaster and I hope that you will join me in wishing her well and her welcome 6 o'clock in the evening is a much kinder time of day."

Kathy: "I didn't have to set three alarms at 2:30 (a.m.) to get up. I'm glad to be here. Thanks, Floyd."

Kathy laughed recalling that Floyd called her "The Girl."

"It was Floyd's show for sure," she said. "And I was smart enough to understand that. He'd been in the business for ever and, um, he put up with me."

The 6 p.m. news also had a long-time producer, Bob Veasey, who recognized the need for a co-anchor on the show.

"And they could not have picked a better person to do it," he said. "I don't think it was an easy job, I don't think on a daily basis that it was a fun job for Kathy, necessarily, when she started. Floyd could be difficult to work with and it was a difficult position at that time. She handled it with such grace and dignity and class that it was unbelievable. She helped move this station and Floyd Kalber into the next century of broadcasting."

Sportscaster Jim Rose remembers Floyd's feeling about having a co-anchor.

"I remember Floyd having a tiny bit of angst about having a co-anchor," Rose said. "I'm not so sure it had to do with female or male or whatever, but I remember Kathy saying, 'Oh no. You're gonna have a co-anchor and it's gonna be me.'"

While it certainly wasn't the first male-female anchor team at ABC7, viewers and many female journalists still took notice of the shift at the 6 p.m. anchor desk.

"She really has been that icon and that role model that I think a lot of women look up to," said Karen Jordan, one of ABC7's other current female anchors.

"I'm not sure I ever felt like a trailblazer," Brock said. "I just wanted to make it work and hang on!"

It was a successful union, lasting five years, until Floyd Kalber retired.
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