Elmer Lower, the longtime president of ABC News, has died at age 98.
ABC announced his death this morning. Lower was a legendary figure in the early days at ABC News — an also-ran news division that barely seemed to function in the shadow of mighty CBS News and somewhat-less-mighty NBC. But he built the place, brick by brick, though by the time Roone Arledge eventually took over — to make ABC the biggest, brassiest, most successful broadcast news division of the '90s — Lower was long gone.
Lower's hires, in fact, included Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel and Sam Donaldson, among many others. Lower tried all sorts of things, such as briefly making an extremely youthful Peter Jennings anchor of ABC's nightly news program; that experiment didn't last long, but it did set the table for one of the most successful anchor runs in TV history.
ABCN's current boss, Ben Sherwood, announced his death this morning. Here's the memo:
"With sadness I’m writing to share that former ABC News President Elmer Lower died today in Vero Beach, Florida at age 98. He was surrounded by family. In 1963, Elmer was named president of ABC News. He ran the organization until 1974. A television pioneer who worked for all three broadcast networks, Elmer helped turn ABC News into a force in journalism by hiring some of the best in the business including Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel, Frank Reynolds and Sam Donaldson. Under his leadership, the news division staff grew from 250 to 750 employees and the evening news expanded from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Elmer retired from news in 1978 and started a career in teaching where he educated young journalists for more than two decades. In 1975, Elmer was honored with a lifetime achievement Emmy award as well as the Paul White Award, which is the Radio-Television News Director Association’s highest honor recognizing a lifetime of contributions in electronic journalism. He also served on the board of directors of the Public Broadcasting Service. Elmer is survived by two sons, two grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. His family asks that he be remembered with donations to the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. Please take a moment to remember Elmer Lower, his great service to ABC News, and his many achievements in journalism."