Walter Cronkite, 1916-2009

Consider this just a brief View to Hugh tribute to legendary newsman Walter Cronkite, who was laid to rest this week. Blog commenters have noted Cronkite’s primary connection to Hugh Morton: he lent his authoritative voice and reputation as narrator for Morton’s 1995 PBS documentary, “The Search for Clean Air.” As commenter and Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard already recounted:

I recall Hugh telling the story of how Cronkite was selected. Morton said he had originally wanted his long-time friend Charles Kuralt for the program, but since the program was scheduled for PBS, Kuralt’s CBS contract would not permit him appearing on a competing network. So when Morton told Cronkite this story, Cronkite said, in his unique deep voice, ”Well, you got me.”

Julia Morton described Cronkite as “lightning in a jar.” We’re lucky to have had him for so many years.

5 thoughts on “Walter Cronkite, 1916-2009”

  1. It was one week ago tonight that we learned that we had lost America’s Anchorman. Walter Cronkite died at 7:42 PM (EST) on July 17, 2009. The remainder of that Friday night and the entire weekend were filled with TV tributes, special reports, and “lookbacks.” It seems that everybody who ever worked with Walter Cronkite had a favorite story they wanted to tell.
    I never met Walter Cronkite, but having worked at a CBS station for more than 40 years, I feel like I knew him and I too, have a Walter story. Well, kinda’. In 1965, I was an assistant director for WFMY-TV in Greensboro. Part of my everyday job was to check in on the CBS Network line at about 6:22 each evening during our local evening news broadcast. What I would hear and sometimes see, was the CBS Newsroom in New York. Cronkite would be in shirtsleeves, frantically making last-minute changes to his script. He would look over at his floor manager and say, “how much time?” As the 6:30 hour approached, someone would hand him his jacket, and the makeup person would dab power on his face. He was always ready at 6:30.
    But on this particular November evening, when I tuned in, all I got was snow and static. No newsroom, no floor manager, no makeup person, no Walter. I immediately told my director, “we don’t have Walter.” Jack Forehand, who was directing the “Channel 2 Evening News” that night, quickly told his anchors, Dave Wegerek and Mark Combs, “we may need to keep going at 6:30. There’s a problem with CBS.” As I continued to listen in, I heard a switch and now there were voices that seemed agitated and confused. Finally, there was CBS News Anchor Roger Mudd seated at the news desk in Washington. “We’ve got Roger Mudd in Washington,” I told Forehand. At exactly 6:30, we made our hot switch to CBS…in Washington.
    So that’s the way it was, November 9, 1965…the night of the famous (or infamous) “Northeast Blackout”…affecting around 25 million people and 80,000 square miles in Ontario, Canada, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey and New York.

  2. When Walter Cronkite visited Grandfather Mountain, he was just another white-haired man walking across the Swinging Bridge. Only thing was, at least half a dozen people came up to shake his hand or grab a photo. I think it was the voice they recognized.

  3. Another white-haired man indeed! We took Walter out to dinner while he was staying with us and the young waitress got so rattled that the owner had to take over. Or else the owner just wanted the opportunity to wait on Walter himself.

  4. 10:56:15 PM EDT tonight will mark the 41st anniversary of man’s first footstep on the surface of the moon. Just as famous as the man who made the footprint, Neil Armstrong, is the man who brought it to us…Hugh Morton’s friend, Walter Cronkite.

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