CBS Chicago restores giant TV screen outside its building

CBS Chicago is celebrating going live with its new giant outdoor video screen in the heart of the city.

The screen, which faces Daley Plaza near the corner of Washington and Dearborn streets in downtown Chicago, was recently completely replaced after the original one had fallen into disrepair before being decommissioned and removed.

WBBM is a tenant inside of a mixed-used development called Block 37, having moved in back in 2008.

At the time, the station used the windowed studio located below where the new screen was installed as its primary news studio, with most of its newscasts originating from it. 

Original architectural renderings for the development showed a wraparound video screen above most of the windows, but those plans were never realized, and for years the space to the left and right of the screen had an unfinished appearance, presumably waiting until additional panels could be installed.

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Eventually, glass panels mimicking the windows found elsewhere on the facade were installed to give it a more polished look and all but nixed the notion of ever having a wraparound video installation.

WBBM moved out of the studio in 2017 when a brand new set was installed down the hall in a fully-enclosed studio. 

“For rent” signs then appeared in the windows as CBS appeared to attempt to sublet the space, though it was never able to sign a deal for it.

For a period, the station still kept the screen active, filling it with feeds of its programming and promotional content. However, as time went on, portions of it “died” and the station eventually opted to shut it down rather than display a substandard image.

Much of the scenery in the space was dismantled and removed as well.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, WBBM reportedly moved back into the windowed studio space, creating additional workstations that allowed station personnel to better socially-distance and spread out. While the studio has windows on two sides, the glass can be covered with shades when needed.

Earlier in 2022, the station announced plans to restore the large screen as well as convert the space below into a weather center for its First Alert team.

NewscastStudio has reached out to WBBM for an update on the status of that project.

Large outdoors screens such as the one at WBBM are commonly referred to using the name “JumboTron” coined by Sony in the 1980s. Sony stopped using the name in 2001 and it is now considered a generic term.

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Photo by Albert Ramon via Twitter

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