Dan Rather: How Hurricane Coverage Paid Off

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This week the weather has been the primary lead story. It has been a few years since a tropical storm has landed on the Texas Coast. But one storm propelled the career of a Houston radio/TV reporter named Dan Rather.

Rather, a native Texan, was born in Houston and graduated from Sam Houston State University in 1953. He then joined 740AM KTRH Radio in 1954 which was owned at that time by the Houston Chronicle(today this 50,000 watt news/talk station is owned by iHeart Media). He served as a reporter at KTRK-TV (ABC) there and then joined KHOU-TV as news director. In those days, news directors also appeared on air in major markets as opposed to today where they are primarily on the management side and off camera. KHOU was and remains the CBS affiliate for Houston & Galveston.

When Hurricane Carla hit the Texas Coast in September 1961, it landed with such intensity that no other hurricane to hit Texas has ever matched it. It also ranks as the ninth most powerful storm to hit the US since 1851. Rather saw this news event as a way to make his mark as a reporter and he did. Out in the storm at its worst and risking his own personal safety, Rather reported to Houstonians what was happening. His coverage of this news event caught the attention of CBS News executives in New York. By 1962, Rather joined CBS News.

Over his 44 year career, he served as a general correspondent who became of the first journalists to report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. His reporting style on this tragedy earned him a promotion to White House Correspondent. Later he became the weekend anchor of the CBS Evening News. He covered big stories such as Watergate and the Vietnam War. Later he was named a correspondent for 60 Minutes and 48 Hours.

In 1980, he was named anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News upon the retirement of Walter Cronkite to take place in March 1981. Rather held this position until March 2005. After CBS, Rather worked for the HDnet cable network and now appears on Dan Rather Reports on the AXS TV network.

He survived reporting on Hurricane Carla. And he has survived the ups and downs of network television news. What a life and career.

Here is some early Dan Rather reporting on the Kennedy Assassination on the CBS Television Network.

See you next time

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