Meeting Walter CronkiteJuly 17th, 2009 at 7:13 pm by Bob Grip under Daily Dot Com, FOX10 News
I was fortunate enough to meet and actually interview Walter Cronkite in the late 1970s. My co-anchor Glenda Webb and I traveled to New York City to record promotions for the CBS Evening News (as if he needed promotion!), and for our program.
We arrived at his studio on West 57th Street and were warned by a member of his staff that he wasn’t in the best of moods, because of chronic back pain. To his credit, we could never tell. He was charming, helpful and above all, professional. You could tell by the way everyone acted in the studio that he was “Mr. Cronkite”. He commanded respect and he got it.
After the promotional shoot was over, I had the chance to interview him about current trends in local news. He wasn’t fond of many of them. Even at that time, he thought stations spent too little time covering the local school board or city hall because they were “dull”. He had particular distain for news consultants, whom he felt were ruining local news by depending too heavily on market research rather than the judgment of people who had roots in their community, and whose job it was to gather the news on a day-by-day basis.
If you look back at some of his old newscasts and judge them by contemporary standards, they do look old fashioned. He favored content over form; there were no flashy graphics or quick sound bites. His writing was tight and focused, and he demanded the same from his correspondents and reporters. With the exception of Charles Kuralt’s weekly features from around the country, his newscasts were focused on hard news that occurred in the Washington to New York corridor.
He had the luxury of working in a television universe that involved only 2 other competitors, NBC and to a much lesser extent, ABC. Families would gather around their television sets and watch, really watch the network evening news. And when they did sit down, they watched Walter Cronkite more than anyone else.