I represent the first generation who, when we were born, the television was now a permanent fixture in our homes. When I was born people had breakfast with Barbara Walters, dinner with Walter Cronkite, and slept with Johnny Carson.
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013
How Network TV Covered the Events of 11/22/63: Next on TVC
We’ll look back at how television news covered the events of Nov. 22, 1963, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, on the next edition of TV CONFIDENTIAL, airing Nov. 13-19 at the following times and venues:
WROM Radio Detroit, MI Wednesday 11/13 8pm ET, 5pm PT 2am ET, 11pm PT Sunday 11/17 8pm ET, 5pm PT 2am ET, 11pm PT Click on the Listen Live button at WROMRadio.net
Indiana Talks Marion, IN Wednesday 11/13 11pm ET, 8pm PT with replays at various times throughout the week Click on the player at IndianaTalks.com or use the TuneIn app on your smartphone and type in Indiana Talks
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963 was a seminal moment in the history of not only the United States in general, but network television news in particular. Prior to Nov. 22, 1963, the concept of “breaking news” did not exist on television (certainly not as we know it today), and while there was some form of expanded live network news coverage, it was usually limited to planned events such as political conventions, election nights, Inauguration ceremonies, or the March on Washington. That all changed at approximately 1:45pm ET on Nov. 22, 1963, as all three networks — ABC, NBC and CBS — were caught off guard, along with the rest of the country, as they scrambled to cover the news of JFK’s murder as the events unfolded.
While many of us think of the iconic moment when CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite briefly lost his composure when he announced the death of JFK, several moments on NBC television were also significant, including the first NBC national news bulletin reporting the assassination, which was read on the air by NBC announcer Don Pardo. But because of the shocking and unexpected nature of the story — not to mention the technological limitations of television broadcasting at the time — NBC did not have any recording of the Pardo bulletin, nor did it have any recording of the first four minutes of its network news coverage that day. In fact, for more than 25 years, NBC assumed that moment in history was simply lost… until it was discovered that one man in Brooklyn, NY happened to have the presence of mind to tape the audio from that moment on his own. That man, as you may have gathered, is our friend Phil Gries.
We’ll not only share that lost audio footage with you this week as part of the Sounds of Lost Television, but learn how, in many respects, that footage came to symbolize Phil’s passion forcapturing audio from other moments of early television, at a time when few, if any, TV broadcasts were saved at all — even on the network level. We’ll also play highlights of Phil’s interview with Don Pardo from May 1998, in which the iconic announcer recalls the chaos that permeated the NBC newsroom on 11/22/63, as well as other moments from television coverage that day.
Tony Figueroa and Donna Allen will also join us for this week’s discussion, as we merge The Sounds of Lost Television with This Week in TV History.