Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"And That's The Way It Is ..."

Texas Anchors

Scott Pelley becomes yet another in a long line of Texans to sit in the CBS Evening News Anchor chair. In fact, the connection to Texas is rather striking.

Think about it. The venerable Walter Cronkite has his Austin/University of Texas ties. He defined the term “anchorman” with his pioneering work at CBS for 19 years. He was the original. CBS Evening news was only 15 minutes long at the beginning. When he stepped away in 1981, he was regarded as America’s “most trusted” man.

Dan Rather was his immediate successor. Dan Rather, a native Texan, went to Sam Houston State University.

Before he inherited the CBS Evening News Anchorman position (instead of Roger Mudd), many of his major news assignments were on Texas soil, including Hurricane Carla in 1961, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963, and his March, 1973 Houston news conference confrontation with President Richard Nixon. Rather anchored for CBS 24 years. Rather has a home in the Austin area, and his daughter, Robin Rather, is an Austin environmental activist.

After Rather and before Katie Couric, came interim anchor and native Texan Bob Schieffer who was the face of the CBS Evening news for about a year, starting in 2005. Shieffer was born here in Austin, February 25, 1937, but grew up in Fort Worth where he graduated from TCU. Many lobbied for Shieffer to be the next anchor instead of Couric in 2006. He actually grew the audience for the platinum network that had sunk to #3.

Now, after five years, Katie Couric is stepping down, and Scott Pelley is stepping up June 6th.
Pelley was born in San Antonio July 28, 1957. He attended Texas Tech and started working in TV news in Lubbock.

I remember him most from his time spent as a reporter and anchor for WFAA (ABC) in Dallas from 1982 to 1989, roughly the time this writer was working for the KVUE TV (ABC) here in Austin. He was a good guy and a real pro. You knew that he was bound for bigger things. He had the voice, the looks, the brains, and the talent. He made the jump from Dallas to CBS in 1989.

Will he lead CBS back to its former glory? He has the professional credentials. Further, he’s a Texan. The Texas connection worked in the past. It might work again. “And that’s the way it is,” as Mr. Cronkite would say.

© Jim McNabb, 2011

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