Sunday, April 20, 2014 London

Edward R. Murrow
 I heard Charles Kuralt explaining to someone one time why he spoke the way he did...with such precise articulation.  He said it was from a lot of years of imitating his hero, Edward R. Murrow.

Yep, all of us kids who dreamed of "being on the radio" someday, did our damnest to imitate Mr. Murrow. Even a well known young reporter named Walter Cronkite came under the influence of the Murrow style of speaking.

And Why not? Murrow was hands down the most successful newscaster in radio history.  The Murrow voice and style of speaking was what every program director in America wanted for his station in the 40's and 50's.  That's why Charles Crutchfield, General Manager of WBT in Charlotte didn't hire David Brinkley in the early 50s. He didn't have that "radio voice." 

Philco Transitone 1939
Down here in the Bat Cave just waiting for that evil "WE HAUL JUNK" truck is the very radio over
which I listened to Ed Murrow's broadcasts.  I was only about 6 years old when he began his war time reports, but the memory of his words, "This is London...." still bring chills up my spine.

My Daddy bought this little Philco table model at Stanley's Drug Store in 1939 and paid $9 for it.
It still works.

But, as the late night TV pitchman says, "...there's more!"

Altec 670B mic
Next to the little Philco, is the microphone Ed Murrow used for many of his broadcasts heard over my radio!

Ed Bliss and Lee Shephard
It's kind of a long story, but basically, in 1958 Ed Bliss, Murrow's writer (Bliss wrote the "hard news" part of the evening  radio newscast, but Murrow wrote the "commentary.") and the other CBS executives weren't pleased with the sound of the microphone the Washington studio (CBS/WTOP) was using, so they contracted with an engineer named Lamar Allison, a friend of mine, who owned a top of the line recording studio to rent his newest and most expensive mic whenever Murrow broadcast his show from Washington. I did a number of recordings at Lamar's studio and offered to buy that particular mic every time I got together with Lamar, but he wouldn't part with it.  However, many years later, as his health was failing, he instructed his brother to give me the microphone.

Rest in Peace, Lamar.

By the way, you all have seen Ed Bliss, except you didn't know it.  He was the bald headed guy who
from time to time walked onto the CBS EVENING NEWS set with Walter Cronkite to hand him late breaking news updates and bulletins. He became almost as recognizable as Cronkite, except no one knew who he was.  After Murrow retired, Bliss became Cronkite's writer.

I've read that during WW2, one of, if not THE most prized possession of the American GI was his Zippo cigarette lighter. I believe it. Everybody smoked back then. But it's hard to imagine anyone being more addicted to cigarettes than Murrow.  Ed Bliss told me that the great man's
Murrow leaving White House for last time
response when anyone brought up the subject of a possible relationship of cancer and smoking was, "By the time I get cancer from these things, they will have found a cure for it."

 That's one time he was wrong.

But he wasn't wrong very often:

" During the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: LOOK NOW, PAY LATER.
For surely we shall pay for using this most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which must be faced if we are to survive. I mean the word survive literally.  

 -Edward R. Murrow

Ed Murrow was 57 years old when he died.