Channel 4 yesterday announced that Jim Vance will return as a coanchor on the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts, starting Monday, Jan. 27.

His return will coincide with the departure of his former coanchor Bob McBride, who yesterday announced his retirement from television after 43 years in the business.

Vance has been off the air since June 1985, when he took leave following a recurrence of drug-related problems.

McBride yesterday said he was "personally delighted" at his old partner's return to the air. "It's where he belongs."

Vance, who joined the station in 1969 as a reporter and rose to weeknight coanchor in 1972, first took leave from WRC in January of last year for treatment of his personal problems at the Betty Ford Center in California.

He returned to the air after only six weeks, however, and he suffered a relapse last summer. He has since been under treatment in the Washington area.

Taking into account the usual month-to-month fluctuations, the show's ratings have generally remained steady during Vance's absence.

Fred DeMarco, vice president and general manager of WRC, said yesterday that "Jim feels fine, he feels ready, and all the professional people think he's ready. We're all delighted he's back."

Vance will coanchor the 6 p.m. news with Susan King and the 11 p.m. show with Dave Marash.

He was unavailable for comment yesterday.