WALTER CRONKITE AND ME
July 18, 2009 by dicksworld
I learned of the death of Walter Cronkite when Phil Scoggins called me to ask if I would give him an interview to run on the 11p.m. news on WRBL. I immediately said, “Yes.” I was honored to do the interview.
As I told Phil in the interview, my television news career and Walter Cronkite’s started about the same time. He took Douglas Edwards’ place on CBS-TV and I took Glenn Broughman’s place on WRBL-TV, the station that carried the CBS Evening News.
At that time, television news reporting was not entertainment oriented. Dignity and style prevailed. News was, and still should be, a serious business. He built a tremendous amount of trust over the years nationally, and I did my best to do the same thing locally.
I only saw him in person once. All of the network big guns converged on the Radio and Television News Director’s Association Convention at Miami in the early 1970’s. I was WRBL Radio and Television news director, as well as anchor of the evening news, at the time. The network news anchors came to rally America’s news directors in the fight to show President Nixon and Vice President Agnew that they could not harness and intimidate the media. Their attacks failed as both of them were forced to resign for other reasons.
I was actually on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite only once. A Fort Benning soldier refused to wear his uniform as a protest against the Vietnam War. I interviewed him and CBS ran that interview. The CBS News Southern Bureau chief told me Cronkite said he liked the interview. Coming from Walter Cronkite, that meant a lot.
People are saying that he was the “gold standard of broadcast journalism,” and that he was “the most trusted man in America.” They are also saying that no one today can match the credibility he achieved. I agree. He was not flashy. He was not Hollywood handsome. He was avuncular, and apparently that’s what America wanted because many millions of them watched him for 19 years on CBS. When he said, “And that’s the way it is, ” they believed him