Times Staff Writer

Sylvia Chase, who joined ABC News in 1977 and a year later became one of the first correspondents on ABC’s then-new “20/20” newsmagazine series, is resigning to become a news anchor at KRON-TV, an NBC affiliate in San Francisco.

She said Tuesday that she’ll start work at KRON in February. Her resignation comes less than two months after that of Geraldo Rivera, who also was a member of the original “20/20” team when the program began in 1978. Rivera had been with ABC for 15 years.

Chase said her resignation was unrelated to that of Rivera. Nor, she said, was it due to ABC’s controversial cancellation in October of a scheduled “20/20” segment about the late Marilyn Monroe. Chase had worked on the story for three months.


The segment, which concerned Monroe’s reported affairs with President John F. Kennedy and Atty. Gen. Robert F. Kennedy, had its origins in a new book, “Goddess: The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe” by British journalist Anthony Summers.

Shortly before the segment was to air on “20/20,” ABC News President Roone Arledge decided to cancel it, saying it needed more work.

Chase, who had worked on the story for three months, never publicly criticized Arledge. “It’s no secret that I was disappointed, and I think it was a wrong decision,” she said by phone Tuesday from New York, “but it’s not the reason I’m leaving.”

She said she’s joining KRON simply because she thinks it has “one of the best local news operations in the country.” She said she’ll be anchoring the station’s 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts and also will work as an investigative reporter.

Born in Northfield, Minn., and a graduate of UCLA, Chase began her career in 1969 as a radio reporter for CBS-owned KNX Radio in Los Angeles. She joined CBS News in 1971 and was named a correspondent for the network in 1974.

After moving to ABC News three years later, she won two Emmy Awards while at “20/20.”

Rivera, who left ABC News in November, hadn’t worked on the Monroe story but publicly criticized Arledge’s decision. He has said, however, that Arledge’s action wasn’t the primary reason he decided to quit ABC. In an interview in October, Rivera said he basically wanted to leave ABC to reassess his life and career. He said Arledge’s decision on the Monroe piece had only accelerated his departure.