Friday, July 17, 2009

IN MEMORY OF MR. WALTER CRONKITE...
...a true Legend of Broadcasting passed away today...
During the Seattle Mariners' game this afternoon, one of the announcers made mention of Mr. Cronkite's passing. I have not read any articles nor seen any broadcasts concerning him yet, so this post is as 'pure' as I could generate...
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Those who write obituaries and epitaphs professionally will undoubtedly do a better job than me of summing up the life story of Walter Cronkite, who left us today at the age of 93. The man absolutely commanded respect. He was a Class Act all the way, and all that aspiring newspeople can ever hope to do is be one-one-hundredth as good as he was. Almost every night, from the early '60s, up through the 1980's (when he was hustled out of his job for a much inferior replacement, Dan Rather), Walter was the guy who told me what was going on in the world.
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Even in the insulated environment of college, I couldn't wait for afternoon classes to end so I could go into our hall's TV lounge, where "Uncle Walter" informed me of the latest developments on the Seven Seas and Nine Continents. Through the years, he told me of the Fall of Saigon...Watergate...The First Man On The Moon...the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and Martin Luther King, and so much more. Indeed, I feel like I've lost a dear and very-much-treasured relative. It is entirely possible that he had more influence than any single person on this planet because of not only witnessing history in his long tenure in the broadcast industry, but because We All felt he was truthful, believable, and in times of crisis, both authoritative and reassuring. He meant so much to me individually, and he meant so much to almost everyone. This is a great loss. Walter, you did good. Very good. Great, in fact.
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Walter Cronkite broadcast news waay before there was any 24-hour, information-gushing type of news coverage. Every night, for half an hour, he would tell it like it is, summing up the State of The World in 30 minutes...(well, 22 minutes after commercials). I suppose Walter's presence was good for American family life, since perhaps the only time they were all together in the same place was at dinner, and afterwards, in front of the TV as Walter Cronkite told us all everything we needed to know. I remember our family cocooning itself in the family room, where we'd gather 'round and watch Mr. Cronkite. Although I rip away on occasion regarding my family, we had our good times, too. We always watched Walter Cronkite. To us, there was just No One Else we wanted to watch when it came to the news.
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After his retirement, I heard he had some sort of 'arrangement' with CBS to do the occasional documentary on something or other, but in my opinion, CBS totally missed the boat by under-utilizing Cronkite's unique way to tell a tale, especially since he probably could've kept doing the CBS News for another ten or 15 years, and I'll bet he would've gladly done so. Perhaps Dan Rather wasn't that bad of a News Anchor, but he became mealy-mouthed and his camera presence was uptight...I'm not kidding when I say that since Dan Rather took over in the 1980's, I watched maybe a week's worth of the CBS News during his multi-year tenure; no one came close to Cronkite. I switched over to the NBC network, and got to like the way Tom Brokaw gave us the news; he was not unlike Cronkite in terms of camera presence and news delivery. Brian Williams, who's since succeeded Brokaw, isn't bad, although he talks so slow it sounds like someone's pulling the words out of his mouth with a pair of rusty pliers. I also grew to like Peter Jennings of ABC; the way he handled the 9/11 coverage in 2001 Amazed Me. He did it with Class.
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I think that all Broadcasting People, especially those in the higher echelons of the industry, need to seriously re-evaluate themselves in the context of how Walter Cronkite presented the news during his long career. I suppose now, we'll get wall-to-wall-to-wall-to-wall coverage of Walter Cronkite's death; I'm not sure he would've wanted it that way, but that's what we're gonna get (Indeed, MSNBC is doing that as I write this). Right now, the Geekiest-Newsperson-Ever (David Schuster, he of the eternal deer-caught-in-the-headlights vacant presence) is trying to be one-twenty-fifth as good as Cronkite on his worst day. Good luck with that, David...
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...and that's the way it is, Friday, July 17th, 2009...

7 Comments:

Blogger MarmiteToasty said...

I have no idea who this chappie is, except from what Ive read about HBO and now here, and oh my, what a tribute you did for the man.... he sounds like one of the 'old school' crowd, and Im sure he will be missed in doodleland...

x

1:55 AM  
Blogger raymond pert said...

In the retrospective pieces I saw at my mother's house Saturday, my favorites were of Cronkite in the field, especially his reporting from Vietnam. I always thought Cronkite surpassed even his anchor man work when he was out from behind the desk, interviewing presidents or putting things in perspective while striding some street in Saigon or when he did his work on the CBS show, "The Twentieth Century." It's funny. Watching him Saturday, he reminded me, when he was doing field reports, of Howard Cossell; I might be in the minority on this one, but I trusted and admired Cossell's honesty and understanding of the USA in much the same way I did Walter Cronkite's.

But I digress.

Your tribute to Walter Cronkite is superb. Add it to your growing list of first-rate retrospectives.

6:40 PM  
Blogger some guy who blogs said...

Marmie...he was quite a chappy indeed. 'Uncle Walter' was in our house every night for a generation. When he went out, he went out 'on top'; he was considered the most trustworthy figure in America.

Raypert, I saw a 'Nightline' mini-retrospective of Cronkite's career, spanning all of 10 minutes, and I found myself filling up with tears. I'll remember his voice forever...

7:59 PM  
Blogger some guy who blogs said...

And, Mr. Pert, I remember Howard Cosell, too, especially from the days of the old Monday Night Football telecasts. His halftime reports on the previous week's football action were really great. By the way, Howard Cosell's mid-game report on John Lennon's death was the first such report. Evidently it came across the wire during the broadcast.

8:04 PM  
Blogger raymond pert said...

Part of why Howard Cosell was on my mind: recently I was at YouTube watching and listening to Cosell and listened again to his report of John Lennon's death. I'd heard it live when it first happened and was deeply impressed hearing it again.

3:35 PM  
Blogger some guy who blogs said...

Hi, Raypert...Yeah, ol' Howard Cosell was a lot of fun, too. It seems that there were more 'individuals' back then than now. Of course, that might just be the Old Fogie in me rambling on endlessly...As far as Lennon's death, I felt really bad about it for a long time, then George Harrison died, and well, rather than focusing on 2 of my Beatle heroes dead, it's more like time Consumes Us All sooner or later, and I feel that more and more as the years fly by and the mist gets ever thicker...

7:55 PM  
Blogger some guy who blogs said...

Marmee...if you've ever known a person who was Truly Good, someone you've admired and respected...and held in ultra-high esteem...this is what Walter Cronkite was to me. His seriousness, combined with his folksy charm, affect all of us, I believe. I do miss him. This was a good man.

9:11 PM  

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