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Remembering Ed Bradley

By Ken Foote, CBSDFW.COM

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News anchor Ed Bradley hosts the “Jazz at Lincoln Center” Grand Opening Celebration of Frederick P. Rose Hall October 20, 2004 in New York City. (credit: Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)

This week, CBS This Morning aired some archival footage that caught my eye about the Iranian takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran back in 1979. The footage contained none other than the late CBS News anchor and “60 Minutes” correspondent Ed Bradley.

The native Philadelphian was born June 22, 1941. His parents divorced at an early age and he was raised by his mother who kept two jobs to keep things going. After graduating from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania in 1964 with a degree in education, he started teaching grade school. While doing this he also did some freelance work at WDAS Radio in Philadelphia: programming music, reading news, you name it. His news “claim to fame” occurred at WDAS when he began reporting the riots in Philadelphia back in the 1960s. That landed him a job in 1967 at WCBS Newsradio 880. WCBS had recently moved to all-news format at the direction of CBS Chairman William S. Paley, so Bradley’s timing there was perfect, and being a 50,000-watt clear channel station, WCBS’s nighttime signal covered over 30 states.

In 1971, he moved to Paris, France and later became a stringer for CBS News. He covered the Paris peace talks between the U.S. and North Vietnam. He later asked to be transferred to Vietnam to cover the war for CBS where he later was injured by a mortar round. In 1974, he moved to Washington and in 1976 was assigned to cover the Carter campaign. He later became the first African American correspondent covering the White House.

In 1981, Walter Cronkite stepped down from the anchor chair of the CBS Evening News and Dan Rather took over. That left a slot for a correspondent on “60 Minutes” and Bradley was chosen. He had done some reporting on CBS Reports so he was a natural for this show. In addition, Bradley would substitute anchoring on the CBS Evening News. At one time, CBS offered its stations a 15-minute CBS Sunday Night News at 11pm ET/10pm CT of which Bradley was the anchor.

During his tenure on “60 Minutes,” Bradley did more than 500 stories that ran the entire spectrum, from the very serious to the very light hearted. He interviewed personalities such as Howard Stern, Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson. He was also one of the first male correspondents to wear an earring on the air. He still remains to this day the only “60 Minutes” male correspondent to have done this.

Bradley loved music, especially jazz. He hosted “Jazz at Lincoln Center” on NPR and performed with the Neville Brothers and Jimmy Buffet. He also appeared on New Jersey’s legendary jazz station, WGBO-FM, from Newark.

Ed Bradley passed away on November 9, 2006 at age 65.

Thank you, Ed, for all you did for us and what you taught us.

See you next time.

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