One of the most prestigious and iconic TV network evening newscasts in America is the CBS Evening News. Along with its distinguished radio counterpart, the CBS World News Roundup, this seven day a week nightly broadcast has stood the tremendous changes we’ve seen in our industry from only three networks in 1963 to hundreds of networks today. Since its start, the Evening News has been anchored by such extraordinary people as Douglas Edwards, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather (and for two years co-anchored with Connie Chung), Bob Schieffer, Katie Couric, and now Scott Pelley. Half of these anchors also were either from Texas or had Texas ties (Edwards was from Oklahoma…close enough for me!)
September 3, 1963 represents the 50th anniversary of the Evening News expanding from 15 minutes to a half hour. When Cronkite had accepted the job a year earlier, many of the CBS World War II reporters known as “The Murrow Boys” thought this was a huge career mistake. Unless you were out in the field like they were in battle in Europe, sitting at a desk in a studio reading the news was a nothing job. Cronkite of course proved them wrong. Eric Severeid ended up on the broadcast as a news commentator; John Daly became a quizmaster on What’s My Line. Edward R. Murrow left CBS in the early 1960’s to run the US Information Agency.
While the Evening News would not make the transformation to color until January 1966, they did make a splash on that September 3rd broadcast with a live remote from Hyannis Port MA with Cronkite interviewing President John F. Kennedy. Doing live remotes on television back then wasn’t always the easiest thing to do given the state of technology and even today things can still go wrong. Little did anyone know that some 81 days later Cronkite would be reporting on the biggest story of the century: the assassination of President Kennedy and the first presidential assassination covered by radio and television.
Best wishes, CBS Evening News, for another 50 years! See you next time.
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