Goodbye Uncle Walter, Hello Anniversary of the First Man on the Moon and How Long Before a Musical Based on the Life of Michael Jackson

And that’s the way it is.  I can still hear Walter Cronkite utter those words as he signed off the evening news.  In Western Kentucky, we only really had two stations that came in clear enough to watch.  One was the CBS affiliate out of Cape Girardeau, MO and the other was the NBC affiliate out of Paducah.  Dad used to alternate between the Huntley-Brinkley Report (Good night David,  good night Chet and Goodnight for NBC news)  and the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.  I remember watching all of the space coverage with WC and whoever he had with him as the expert.  It seemed to me the coverage  was sponsored by Gulf Oil but that may not be the case.  I remember the coverage of the Democratic National Convention in 1968.  I remember WC and how he used to light his pipe at the end of a broadcast until the anti-smoking group protested and he stopped.  I regret that I never had a chance to meet WC face to face.  I know many people in the TV news biz did and had their photograph taken with him.  He could have anchored until he didn’t want to and SHOULD have been able to but the politics of the news business got in the way and we got 20 plus years of Dan Rather instead.  I just wonder if WC had stayed in the chair would he have still kept the title of “the Most Trusted Man in America”? Also, I saw an article in Sunday’s Commercial Appeal asking whether WC would have “tweeted”.  I think not.  I think he would have blogged but I think he would have thought the whole “tweeting” thing was overboard.  Speaking of WC, I understand that “60-Minutes” is doing a segment on his life.  I haven’t had a chance to see it yet but I have it TIVOed and look forward to watching it.

Monday marks the anniversary of the first man walking on the moon.  I remember being all excited about the rocket launch and I remember all of the coverage.  Since it was the middle of the summer and I lived on a farm, it seems to me that my brothers and I were all busy doing farm stuff when the actual moon landing took place.  We later went out to catch a movie in Paducah  and it seems we got home in time to watch the coverage of the actual first step on the moon.  I remember thinking this is really taking a long time to get someone out of a vehicle.  I guess too much Star Trek had me wondering why don’t they just open the door and get this show on the road!  Oh, the arrogance and impatience of youth.  I will admit that as a space buff, I really disappointed that we haven’t gone back to the moon.  Afterall, when I was in grade school in the 60s, we were led to believe that we would have cars that drive themselves on super highways and we would have jetpacks to get around town as well.  I’m still waiting for my jetpack.  For those who remember the original “Lost in Space” series, I think the launch of the Jupiter 2 space ship for Alpha Centauri took place around 1997.  Did I miss something here.

Finally, as I was cutting the grass today, I was listening to the musical “Evita” on my I-phone.  As I listened to the music it occurred to me that with all of the brouhaha over Michael Jackson, someone will write a musical based on his life.  Okay, laugh if you will but if someone could do “The Buddy Holly Story” and “Evita” don’t be surprised to see a musical in the works based on MJ.  Hey, you heard it here first.

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5 Comments on “Goodbye Uncle Walter, Hello Anniversary of the First Man on the Moon and How Long Before a Musical Based on the Life of Michael Jackson”

  1. IIRC, Gulf Oil was the sponsor of NBC’s space coverage, usually handled by Frank McGee,

  2. Jay Swafford Says:


    Walter Cronkite was a one of a kind broadcaster, for sure. I met him a few times over my radio/TV career.
    Couldnt have been a nicer guy…
    If i remember correctly…it was CBS’ mandatory retirement @ age 65 (illegal in todays world)that removed Mr Cronkite from that prized “anchor chair”.

    your ol’ radio pal,

    Jay Preston Swafford

  3. Doug Johnson Says:

    The mandatory CBS retirement, plus the concern that Dan Rather might go to another network conspired to hasten Mr. Cronkite’s departure. Even though CBS Chairman William Paley was intent on enforcing the retirement rule, he completely ignored it when he turned 65.

    The news division was supposed to use him from time to time, but Mr. Rather’s ego and the concerns of successive news division presidents to avoid sending mixed signals to the audience prevented that from happening. Of course, if you’ve seen all the work Tom Brokaw has done for NBC News since he retired, you’ll see that the CBS boys were all wet.

    As to whether Mr. C would have completely embraced the social networking phenomenon, who knows? Once you see the CBS special from Sunday night, you’ll see the clip of him demonstrating early computer graphics wearing a hideous tuxedo while doing a soft shoe routine. And they didn’t show it, but when he hosted the morning show, he shared the air with a lion puppet named Charlemagne (designed to compete with J. Fred Muggs, the chimp on the Today Show). So he might have tweeted. Remember, as a former wire service guy, he knew how to write tight.

    And the Robinson’s launched on October 16, 1997. I remember a story in My Weekly Reader in the mid-60s that promised flat-screen TVs that would hang on the wall within 5 years. It took 35, but who’s counting!

  4. the tall tv guy Says:

    CBS did a great job with that special Sunday night. Comments from George Clooney and Robin Williams were surprises. Looking back, Walter brought us the news in a professional and objective way. No spin. That’s missing now. I also miss Tim Russert and his approach, especially during political campaign seasons. He would ask the tough questions to everyone.

    Doug, a friend told me he saw a digital tv demonstrated over twenty years ago. He went into detail about the lines of resolution and how much clearer the picture was even compared to regular tv cable back then. I hope to get one in the next year or two.

  5. Todd Demers Says:

    Joe, couple of quick things… Did you know and/or work with Paul Dorman? You may have read of his passing on our website:,0,1196950.story

    And… I’ve jumped into the “Blogosphere” Give it a look if so inclined.

    Be well, fly safe, enjoy this weather.


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