Archive for the ‘Genre: News’ Category

Legendary KTLA Newsman Stan Chambers Retires After 63 Years

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Stan Chambers started in television at the dawn of the medium. He’s been a fixture of KTLA’s news team and its historic coverage of breaking news since he first reported on the tragedy of Kathy Fiscus in 1947— a three-year-old girl who fell down piping of an abandoned water well.

Stan Chambers’ Archive Interview was conducted on July 28, 1998.

Interview Description:
Stan Chambers was interviewed for five hours in Los Angeles, CA. Having worked at KTLA almost since its inception, Chambers discussed the many local events, breaking news stories and tragedies he has covered in Los Angeles over the last 50 years: The Kathy Fiscus story; hosting Frosty Frolics; covering an above ground A-bomb test with television cameras for the first time; the first Telecopter; the Watts Riots; breaking the Rodney King beating story. The interview was conducted by Karen Herman.

Daniel Schorr— longtime CBS & NPR news correspondent— has died at age 93

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Daniel Schorr was a newsman for CBS from the 1950s to the 1970s, and famously found himself on live TV reading— to his surprise— his own name on President Nixon’s “enemies list” while reporting during the Watergate era.  Schorr was among the initial hires at CNN and was a Senior News Analyst at NPR in his later career.

Daniel Schorr was interviewed by the Archive of American Television on May 22, 2001.

Interview description:

Daniel Schorr was interviewed for two-and-a-half hours in Washington, D. C.  Schorr talked about working for CBS News in Moscow in the mid-1950s and Germany in the early 1960s.  He discussed his work on the series CBS Reports and The Twentieth Century.  Other topics covered included the Nixon administration/Watergate scandal and the beginnings of CNN.  The interview was conducted by Don Carleton.

40 Years Times "60 Minutes"

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

The stopwatch still ticks for 60 Minutes, which first aired forty years ago today.

The newsmagazine has not only been a critical success, but also a popular one. According to The Complete Directory to Primetime Network and Cable TV Shows by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, 60 Minutes was the #1 rated show for the 1979-80 season as well as 1982-83 season, and a three-year run between 1991-1994 (besting Home Improvement, Roseanne, and Seinfeld in this period).

Created by legendary producer Don Hewitt, the original correspondents were Mike Wallace and Harry Reasoner. Focusing on the show’s “magazine” format, Variety opined on the show’s premiere that “it should easily build a larger following than either Look or Life across the nation.”

Many highlights from the series entire run (including the opening of the first show) are available for viewing on the CBS News website: 60 Minutes— 40 Years At the Top (1968-2008).

Also among the program’s notable contributors who have been interviewed by the Archive of American Television through the years, include: Wade Bingham, Ed Bradley, Andy Rooney, Morley Safer, Lesley Stahl, and Joseph Wershba.

Tim Russert Dies At Age 58– Archive Interview Online

Friday, June 13th, 2008

The Archive is saddened by the sudden death of newsman Tim Russert. Russert was interviewed on the set of Meet the Press by the Archive in 2003.

Click here to access his Archive interview.

Interview description:
Russert spoke about his early years growing up in Buffalo, NY and his decision to go to law school. He then spoke about his transition to television news, joining NBC News in 1984 as vice president — working very closely with his mentor, NBC president Lawrence Grossman. In 1988, he became the Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief of NBC News and in 1991 he joined Meet the Press as its moderator. He spoke about his meeting with Meet the Press co-creator Lawrence Spivak and outlined his philosophy for moderating a news interview show. He also spoke about what he considered the biggest news story of his career to-date, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on America. The interview was conducted by Karen Herman on October 12, 2003.

Sportscaster Jim McKay has Died – Archive Interview Online

Saturday, June 7th, 2008


American sports journalist and broadcaster Jim McKay (1921-2008) has died at age 86.

McKay was well-known for hosting ABC’s Wide World of Sports with the introductory line “…the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat” , but perhaps was best-known for his historic and humanistic coverage of the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games, when 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and then killed.

McKay discusses his career, and these landmark events in his 6-part Archive interview:

Click here to view Part 1
Click here to view Part 2
Click here to view Part 3
Click here to view Part 4
Click here to view Part 5
Click here to view Part 6

Detailed Interview Description:
Jim McKay was interviewed for nearly three hours in Monkton, MD. McKay talked about starting his career in 1947 at WMAR-TV in Baltimore. He went on to work with producer Roone Arledge at the beginning of ABC’s Wide World of Sports, staying nearly four decades with the job as the show’s host and commentator. McKay hosted the network’s coverage of the Olympic Games for over 30 years, including his critical coverage of the terrorist hostages and killings that interrupted the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. The interview was conducted by Gerry Sandusky on October 28, 1998.

"Meet the Press" Celebrates 60 Years on Television

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Network television’s oldest show, Meet the Press, debuted on NBC on November 6, 1947. The guest on this first show was James A. Farley, former postmaster general under Franklin D. Roosevelt and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee; the show was created by Laurence E. Spivak and Martha Roundtree (who served as moderator). Meet the Press made its radio debut in 1945. The series moved around the week in its first few years but since 1950 has been a Sunday staple, as Tim Russert’s tagline suggests: “If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press.”

The Archive of American Television has interviewed several members of the team responsible for the show over the years and we’re happy to highlight two of these interviews:


Tim Russert was interviewed for a half-hour on the set of Meet the Press in Washington, D.C. Russert spoke about his early years growing up in Buffalo, NY and his decision to go to law school. He then spoke about his transition to television news, joining NBC News in 1984 as vice president — working very closely with his mentor, NBC president Lawrence Grossman. In 1988, he became the Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief of NBC News and in 1991 he joined Meet the Press as its moderator. He spoke about his meeting with Meet the Press co-creator Lawrence Spivak and outlined his philosophy for moderating a news interview show. He also spoke about what he considered the biggest news story of his career to-date, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on America.


Betty Cole Dukert was interviewed for four-and-a-half hours. Dukert spoke of her early interest in journalism and her brief production experience in local radio and television. She spoke in great detail about her tenure at Meet the Press, which spanned five decades, for which she ultimately served as executive producer. Dukert offered a history of the show from its earliest years as well as discussing her personal experiences behind-the-scenes. She chronicled her overseas trips, guests who appeared on the show, and the relationship between the series and the world’s political leaders. Additionally, she described the working methods of the moderators who served on the show during her years including: Ned Brooks, Lawrence Spivak, Bill Monroe, Marvin Kalb, Roger Mudd, Chris Wallace, Garrick Utley, and Tim Russert.

October 22, 1962: JFK Addresses the Nation about the Cuban Missile Crisis

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Forty five years ago, the U.S. and the Soviet Union nearly went to war over the placement of missiles in nearby Cuba. Kennedy told the television audience that he would “…regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” The crisis was abated when an unconditional Soviet withdrawal was negotiated.

Soundbites from the Archive of American Television:

Max Schindler (Director, News)

“We all knew that something was happening because people were being called away from parties here in town. Very high placed government officials were being called away. We knew it was serious when they started showing pictures of missile silos opening, we thought Washington would be, probably a prime target because it was very serious. Here was this young President Kennedy facing off with Nikita Khrushchev. And I guess he wanted to push to see how hard he could get this young president to back off. Kennedy said the missiles had to be taken out of Cuba, Khrushchev said nyet, no way. And there were Russian ships steaming toward Cuba, or as Kennedy used to say ‘Cuber.’ It was kind of a scary time, and I don’t know how it was around the rest of the country, but in Washington it was very scary. My daughter had just been born a couple of months earlier, and because of a death in the family, she hadn’t been baptized and I came home one night and my wife said to me I baptized Maggie in her crib, she was that scared that we were going to have a nuclear war at that time. So it was a very scary time here in Washington… The coverage was all kind of secretive. We followed a lot of government officials around and tried to get information from them, but it was very hard. It was a very trying time, but they didn’t want to give any information out so, even though we had camera crews at the White House, and State Department, and the Pentagon and all over, we didn’t really get much out of them. They played it pretty close to the vest during that time and I can’t say as I blame them.”

Click here to watch Max Schindler’s entire 6-part Archive of American Television Interview.

Interview Description:
Schindler talked briefly about his early years as a cameraman/production manager in local television in the 1950s. He described his entrance into network television in the 1960s on David Brinkley’s Journal, as an associate director. He spoke of his transition to director and talked about coverage done for several of the important news events of the day, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War. He described directing news coverage following the Kennedy assassination and capturing the images of the President’s coffin being placed onto Air Force One and the newly sworn-in Lyndon B. Johnson coming out to speak his first words as President. Schindler described covering other ‘60s events including Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech and the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests. He described in great detail, his two-decade long association with Meet The Press, which he began in 1965. Schindler described preparing for the show and talked about several of the guests who appeared as well as describing the moderators on the series. Schindler described his work from the 1970s to today covering such events as the Watergate scandal, the returning of the hostages from Iran, and Papal visits to the U.S. Finally, Schindler described the work he has done as a Washington director for the Today show, which he has done from 1975 to the present day.

Bill Monroe (News Correspondent)

“We didn’t quite know what was going on… Gradually it came into view. We took what we could find out from the White House and Kennedy used the media to get across the points he needed to make as the thing developed.”

“One time I was at the White House as a producer of a speech that Kennedy gave that was on all three networks. And he told us to give him at the end of the speech a one-minute cue… He was going to improvise the last minute. He felt that reading something, although he was good at it, is not as effective as if he talk[ed] to [the viewer] directly. And he wanted to finish one minute improvised. Most Presidents don’t have the nerve to do that… He was supremely confident about his articulateness and his ability to handle television.”

Producer/Director Alan Neuman’s Interview Is Now Online

Friday, May 4th, 2007


Producer-director Alan Neuman directed innumerable “live” on-location dramatic, variety, and documentary productions, including NBC’s first televised presidential election coverage and the first show that ever linked four countries together.

Click here to access the entire six-part videotaped interview.

Some interview excerpts are as follows:

On Kate Smith (from part 3):
Kate Smith was a wonderful, remarkable talent. She was a great performer for the theater. When they were traveling she would cut the boys’ hair— she was a barber as well. But I remember the transition. The show became enormously popular. But I remember the girl who cut hair…. Every Friday show, she would sing “God Bless America.” And I’ve probably heard it more than any other person I know has heard it. She had this great voice— big belting voice. And when she sang she filled a room, she filled a hall, she filled anything. She was the one who was always recognized with “God Bless America.” …. In those days, if she walked down the street, they followed her. And she was no beauty. She was not a Marilyn Monroe. But she was Kate Smith. And that meant a great deal.

On the Blacklist (from part 3):
The ad agency would say, the cheese company, or the car company doesn’t want to be in the position of pushing Communism in any shape, manner, or form. They’re out here buying entertainment and we don’t want that. And I could understand their perspective but I wasn’t sympathetic to it…. Who cared if they were a Communist when they were sixteen? It never made much sense…. It literally kept people from functioning, from earning a living…. I found it an abhorrent thing.

On Wide Wide World (from part 4):
I was the first one to do a show in which we linked four countries together— Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and the United States. It was Christmas and we sang “Adeste Fidelis.”…. I had a DC-10, a plane, between Miami and Havana, circling overhead relaying the signal, because that’s what was needed. …. I gave [the Emmy the show won] to the technical supervisor who was responsible for it.

On working with President Herbert Hoover (from part 4):
[NBC President] Pat Weaver called me and said I want you to do [a certain series]. I said I never heard of [that] series. He said that’s why I want you on board— jazz it up a little bit. I said “who’s the guest?” He said Herbert Hoover. I said, “Jazz him up?!”…. But I got Hoover to laugh on camera, I got him to tell stories about himself… This is a man that never smiled on camera. I got him to tell the story about the little girl at Mark Hopkins who came over to him and said, “Mr. Hoover, may I have twelve of your autographs?” And he said, “Twelve? Why do you need twelve?” “Because twelve of yours is worth one Willie Mays.” To get him to tell that story on himself on camera was I felt an accomplishment.

On Maurice Chevalier’s interview for Person to Person (from part 5):
Chevalier had not been permitted to visit this country. He had performed before the German officers. The truth was [he had been given an ultimatum]— “Mr. Chevalier you want to appear before the Frenchmen that we’ve captured, you’ve got to appear before a German camp.” So they gave him that, and he appeared before the Germans, so he could appear before the French. Now we were holding up his visa. He’s a famous French entertainer and we weren’t permitting him to come in. This was during the McCarthy time. I hope that by the story being explained when I did it on Person to Person, it helped, because he was permitted to attend the Academy Awards the following year. [In 1959, producing Person to Person abroad] I informed New York that I was gonna do an entire half-hour [on Chevalier]. They said no. The only ones that ever took a half-hour were Kennedy and Nixon. You’re not gonna take a half-hour— it would break precedent. Why are you taking a half-an-hour? I said because I can’t tell the story in just fifteen minutes. I had visited Chevalier where he had a home. And as I walked up the steps he had a photograph of every woman he had ever been with, all these major stars going on up, ending up with a shrine to his mother that he had outside his bed. And I knew there was no way I was gonna get to any of this without a half-hour at least! He was extraordinary, he was very funny, and it was a delightful half-hour. So what I did is, I shot a half-hour. There was no room for a commercial break in the middle. CBS, when they got the material, was stuck with what I sent them…. There was no commercial break in the middle, they had to give me the whole half-hour— if the man is walking up a staircase you can’t cut away.

Interview description:
Alan Neuman talked about joining NBC as a page in 1947 and his rise through the ranks as stage manager and then director. He described the studios at Rockefeller Center and the early camerawork on such series as Kraft Television Theater. He recalled directing NBC’s first televised presidential election coverage in 1948, anchored by Ben Grauer, which lasted so long that he had Grauer doing calisthenics on the air. He talked about serving as director on such early series as The Three Flames, Mary Kay and Johnny, and Broadway Open House (the forerunner to the Tonight Show). He spoke in detail about his work with Kate Smith and her manager Ted Collins on The Kate Smith Hour. Neuman discussed his work as a producer/director on programs that featured several Presidents of the United States, including Presidents Hoover, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. He talked about the first color remote broadcast done by NBC, for Matinee Theater. He spoke in detail about the series Wide Wide World and Person to Person, for which he served as a producer. Additionally, he talked about the era of the Hollywood Blacklist. B-roll consisted of several photos of Neuman with the presidents he worked with and a photo from the premiere episode of Adlai Stevenson Presents. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on February 15, 2006.

The Archive’s Dan Rather Interview featured in Emmy Magazine

Monday, March 5th, 2007

The latest issue of Emmy magazine (Issue No. 1, 2007, with Ryan Seacrest on the cover) includes selections from our Archive of American Television interview with Dan Rather. He was interviewed in 2005 in two sessions totalling 8 hours. Here are some excerpts from the article:

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a journalist?
I cannot remember a time when I did not want to be a reporter. I think the reason for that was my father’s tremendous interest in newspapers; and to a degree, my mother’s. But who knows where the wellsprings are? This I know: from a very early age, I said I wanted to be a reporter. In that, I’ve been very lucky. There are very few people who get to live their dream.

Q: Walter Cronkite announced his retirement in 1980. Had you anticipated succeeding him?
No. There was talk that Walter Cronkite was going to retire at some point. I couldn’t imagine CBS news without him. Meanwhile, my contract was coming up and ABC came to me with a tremendous offer. It was 10, 12 times what I was making-to come do World News Tonight. I couldn’t imagine myself leaving CBS news, but I also couldn’t imagine turning that down.

CBS News president Bill Leonard, said, “We haven’t made it public, but we’ve been talking with Walter and he’s trying to figure out when he wants to go. We’re going to make this change pretty soon at Walter’s request.” CBS then said, We want to keep you. Would you be willing to do a dual anchor with Roger Mudd? You in New York and Roger in Washington.”

I said yes. Not only did I not have any problem with that, but I can see some advantages, which might allow me to report from the outside. Bill Leonard then went to Washington and when he came back, he said, “The dual anchor is not going to work. Walter wants to retire in 1981; we will make the retirement in March of 1981.” I went to talk with Walter at his home to make sure he was okay with it. I signed the contract Valentine’s Day 1980 to be Walter Cronkite’s successor. Nobody replaces Walter Cronkite.

Q: Is journalism a job you’d recommend?
Absolutely, if you have a passion for it. Journalism is a great life’s work, but, one, you must burn with a hot, hard flame to do it. Two, you have to learn to write. Three you have to learn to write. Four, you have to learn to write. If you have and do those two things then it can be a great profession. I prefer to call it a craft because it’s a lifetime of learning.

Other topics covered in the article include:
- His early work at KHOU in Houston
- Covering Hurricane Carla, which brought him to the attention of CBS News
- Covering the Civil Rights Movement
- Seeing the Zapruder film of President Kennedy’s assassination for the first time
- Covering the Vietnam War
- His interaction with President Nixon
- Interviewing Saddam Hussein
- Retiring from CBS Evening News

You can find the issue at some newsstands, or it can be ordered through the Emmy Magazine Webpage.

65th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Attack

Thursday, December 7th, 2006


Commercial television was in its infancy in the United States when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. NBC and CBS had gone on the air with commercial television in July of 1941.

Frances Buss Buch worked at CBS at this time and describes hearing the news and how CBS reported it on television. Her reminiscenes can be found at 23 minutes into Part 1 of her interview.

Frances Buss Buch was the first woman director to work at CBS television.

Watch her entire five-part interview here. In order to watch the interview in order, click on each sucessive part: 1, 2, 3…

Interview description:

Frances Buss Buch was interviewed for over two hours in Hendersonville, NC. She described how a two-week summer job at CBS led to an over decade-long association with the network, and her historic role as CBS’ very first female director. She detailed her work at CBS before and after broadcasting was interrupted during World War II. She talked about her assistance creating maps for the news program on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. She described several of the earliest commercial broadcasts on CBS which featured her on-camera, including The Country Dance, a monthly dance program by the American Country Dance Society; Children’s Story, in which a story was read to a child, “illustrated” by an artist on camera; and the CBS Television Quiz, which featured such games as “Peanuts in the Bottle” in which a contestant attempted to spoon peanuts into an empty milk bottle that they held on their head. She talked about some of her earliest directorial efforts such as Sorry Wrong Number, an adaptation of the famed radio show. Buch talked about several of the key creative talent at CBS at the time including Worthington Miner and Gilbert Seldes. She spoke in great detail about other early CBS series including The Missus Goes A-Shopping, To the Queen’s Taste with Dione Lucas, The Whistling Wizard, and Mike and Buff. She also talked about CBS’ color experimentation and her role as the director of the first color broadcast for the network on June 25, 1951. She also discussed “Telecolor Clinics,” a series of television documentaries done for the American Cancer Society. The interview was conducted by Karen Herman on June 16, 2005.