Walter Cronkite’s voice, was the voice that mattered.
Cronkite was a radio and TV broadcast journalist and anchorman of the “CBS Evening News” from 1962-1981.
When Cronkite declared at the end of a broadcast, “That’s the way it is” you believed it. No mistrust or apprehension of this media man. For he was known as the most “trusted man in America.” Actually called by many, “Uncle Walter.”
He delivered the facts. Yet always, in a calm, warm and reassuring tone. On July 17, that voice, was forever silenced.
Cronkite had a profound impact on my life. It was Cronkite who told me in 1963, “President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.”
It was Cronkite who told me in 1969, (not with his words, because he was initially speechless), but with the raw, human emotion of his glee, that man had landed on the moon. He brought history and the world into my home.
I always admired Cronkite’s professionalism. His class. Integrity. Humanity. Credibility. Sense of fair play. Commitment to the truth. Word choice and inflection. And ability to tell a story.
It’s somewhat ironic, as I write this, I glance back over my shoulder at a wall in my office, I call, “W.O.W.” It’s my Wall of Wisdom. It’s filled with pictures of folks I’ve interviewed.
In the top row, in the middle, slightly above the pictures on its side, is a framed Newsweek magazine cover from March 9, 1981, with the headline: “After Cronkite.” Beneath the headline, is Cronkite’s smiling face. And to the left, his autograph.
For beneath Cronkite’s picture, are two photos of my radio partner, Steve Krafft and I, interviewing Cronkite. (Steve and I were radio partners here in Chicago from 1982 to 1985. Since ‘85, Steve has been a very successful on-air TV talent with CBS and Fox in Phoenix.)
What strikes me most about these photos, (which were taken during the interview), is Cronkite was smiling and engaged. And that’s what I remember most about our brief moment or treasured time with him. That Cronkite was gracious. Cordial. Smart. Friendly. Warm. Kind. Funny.
He was literally, a living American icon, yet was still willing to be interviewed by two young radio guys. During that brief interview, Cronkite displayed the same qualities that endeared him to viewers. A country. And yes, the world.
During Cronkite’s final “CBS Evening News” broadcast, (March 6, 1981), he said, “Old anchorman you see don’t fade away they just keep coming back for more.”
Now, there will be no more.
Yet I guess what makes sense, is that Cronkite is positioned at the “top” of my wall. For that’s where he belongs.
Walter, I’ll miss you.
Jeff Blackman is a speaker, author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer who lives part-time on Marco Island. His clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to jeffblackman.com to subscribe to his free e-letter.