Sports to news: ABC anchor job luring Faris to New York

Losing Ginger was bad enough. Then Zoraida. And now Paula?

Paula Faris, who’s been a shining star among Chicago television sportscasters, is the latest local luminary headed for network fame and fortune in New York.

Sources said the WMAQ-Channel 5 sports anchor/reporter is expected to be named co-anchor of World News Now, the ABC overnight news show. Faris also is expected to contribute occasional reports to ABC’s Good Morning America.

Although she wouldn’t confirm details of her new job, Faris, who turned 36 on Wednesday, said she plans to work at the NBC-owned station through the end of her contract in December before starting what she called a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” in early January.

“Never in a million years did my husband and I envision leaving Chicago after arriving here over six years ago,” Faris told me. “We’re born and bred Midwesterners, but have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity outside the city. We have mixed emotions because of our strong feelings for this amazing city and the deep relationships we’ve cultivated. But until my final day on the air at NBC 5, I promise to tell the untold stories and do my job to the very best of my ability.”

Faris is the third exceedingly telegenic personality at NBC 5 to accept a network plum in New York in recent weeks. As first tipped here, former weekend meteorologist Ginger Zee is joining ABC’s Good Morning America Weekend in a similar role next month, and NBC 5 News Today anchor Zoraida Sambolin is headed for CNN to anchor one of the planned replacement programs for American Morning.

NBC 5 bosses declined to comment on the move by Faris or on plans to replace her. Her departure marks the second loss this year of a key figure on the station’s sports staff. Sports anchor Daryl Hawks died suddenly last May while in Atlanta to cover a Bulls playoff game. Remaining full-timers are Mike Adamle and Peggy Kusinski.

At World News Now, Faris is expected to co-anchor alongside Rob Nelson. The position she’ll be taking has been vacant since Vinita Nair left the program last February. Peggy Bunker had been filling in temporarily until July, when ABC began rotating anchors while seeking a permanent replacement.

A native of Jackson, Michigan, and graduate of Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio, Faris worked at stations in Dayton and Cincinnati before joining NBC 5 in November 2005. She and husband John Krueger, whom she met in college, have two children.

As much as she knows she’ll miss Chicago, Faris said one thing she’s most excited about is getting to enjoy sports just for the fun of it. “I can be a fan again!” she said. “I’ll have Sundays off. I can go to games. And that’s what I’m really looking forward to — kind of taking those critic blinders off and remembering what it’s like to be a fan and why I fell in love with sports.”

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)