Today a bit of a departure, a happy birthday tribute to a radio institution that had a profound impact on television news, and remains the only continuous news broadcast on the U.S. airwaves since before the Second World War: "CBS World News Roundup" turns 75 years old today.
It's a 10-minute show versus 38 minutes at birth--- hey, you try mounting a 38-minute show when you've turned 75 -- but is still heard on hundreds of stations and is still a vital force in broadcast news.(A local angle: Manhasset native, Joe Wershba, who died in 2011 at the age of 90, was one of the pioneer producers at CBS Radio after leaving active service in 1944, and would later become one of the founding producers of "60 Minutes.")
Its TV impact: The idea of a national program anchored by a journalist (originally Bob Trout), who went to reports in the field or debriefed correspondents, began here and was perfected here. It's the same format that exists on the three nightly news programs of the major networks, and, to a lesser or greater degree, on every newscast, local or national.
Harvey Nagler, CBS News Radio radio chief, told me yesterday, "If you listen to the program, it's still the basic format of what radio and [later] television have done for the last 75 years -- it set the standard of the anchor calling upon correspondents in the field, and analyzing the news, and from that, you had London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Rome in that 38 minutes .?.?. and included Edward R. Murrow. It was spellbinding."
The is where the legendary "Murrow's Boys" began their ride -- and I suppose you could say "Murrow's Girls," too, including Margaret Bourke-White and Mary Marvin Breckinridge, who was the first female correspondent for CBS News. This was also the hub of reporting that began with the Anschluss -- Germany's annexation of Austria -- and a year later covered the invasion of Poland. And if you're curious about what a typical day on radio looked, or rather sounded like, in September 1939, go here -- it's fascinating.
Check out this nice CBS tribute below to the very program that birthed an industry, while this piece by Andy Cohen in the Atlantic offers greater perspective still.
Happy birthday, "Roundup," and may you have many, many more.