Thursday, April 24, 2014


Before I give up on Throwback Thursday posts you're all probably going to get tired of my Years in Broadcasting.  But what's a guy gonna do?

Once upon a time, back in the 60's, there was a national news program on the NBC network called The Huntley-Brinkley Report. It preceded what has now become known as NBC Nightly News.  In the beginning it was only 15 minutes but later it was expanded to a half-hour.

(Just an aside: I have found that most of the "hard" news is covered in the first 15 minutes of the current program and the rest is devoted to mindless features and self-promoting drivel.  But maybe that's just me.)

When the election season rolled around, the co-anchors of the Huntley-Brinkley Report (Chet Huntley in New York, David Brinkley in Washington) got a chance to go to which ever part of the country they wanted . . to report on some Congressional race. Brinkley was from Virginia but Huntley grew up in Montana.  So he headed west. Curiously, his first stop was Bismarck, North Dakota, where I happened to be the news director of the local NBC station. So I got to meet him at the airport and, thanks to a local newspaper photographer who was also covering the Great Man's arrival in our small city, got my picture taken with him.

In case you couldn't figure it out, Chet Huntley is the bemused man on the right.

But wait!  Before he posed for the photo, Huntley said "Just a minute. I've got to take a leak!"

He wandered off behind a hangar or some such building (it was a small airport) and came back shortly with the comment "It's great to get out West again where a man can pee where-ever he wants to!"

Some time later, I also met David Brinkley, but at WRC, the Washington, D.C. NBC station.  I was in town for something or other and wangled a tour of the station from a guy who was Brinkley's producer at the time.  I think his name was Robert Mulholland and he later became President of NBC News.  But at the time he was just Brinkley's producer.

He met me in the lobby of the station and took me to his office where we chatted a bit, then he said something like "Well, let me show you around."  We left his office and immediately entered the office next door, where sat the Great David Brinkley.  I was introduced and then Brinkley began talking to Mulholland.

"How come we didn't have film (this was before videotape) of the big snowstorm in Chicago last night?"

"They took the film out to the airport but it was snowed in and then they couldn't get back to the station in time to ship it by satellite."

"Why didn't they ship it by satellite in the first place?"

"The Today show wanted extra footage."

Brinkley looked at Mulholland for a few seconds, then . . in the unique way of speaking he had . . said "F*** the Today Show!"
Then he looked at me and grinned.

Such were my adventures with the Big Boys in the 60's.  They're both gone now.  Good night, Chet.  Good night, David.


Phil Perisich said...

Good stories and I am old enough to remember the people involved.

joeh said...

I'm not so sure I would have shaken his hand.

Jager said...

The 60 Minutes crew was in town on a promotional tour. I met them in our conference room and Morley Safer said to me, 'How can I dial out on this phone?" I told him and then listened as he and Ed Bradley placed bets with their bookie on the upcoming NFL games.

Lowandslow said...

I remember them both well. Chet died of cancer too early as I recall. Pity.

Did he wash up after he relieved himself around the corner? ;)


Steve said...

Bruce, you da man.

Frank Phillippi said...

Great picture, great stories. David Brinkley used to bum cigarettes from my wife when she worked on the Sunday show at ABC. She thought he was a great guy

Tom Cochrun said...

Great picture and historical recounts. I loved Huntley-Brinkley Report. My dad and I watched it most evenings, especially during the Civil Rights struggle.

Do you recall the evening we ran into Walter Cronkite in the bar and sat and had a drink with him? I can't recall if it was Kansas City in 75 or in 76 or New York in 76.
I'm inclined to think it was the Muehlebach Hotel at the Democratic Issues convention in 75-the year of our romp with HHH, George Wallace, Jimmy Carter, et al. But I think the GOP met in KC in 76.

Catalyst/Taylor said...

Not that I know of.

Catalyst/Taylor said...

It was Kansas City but I believe in 74. It was midway between the two convention years, as I recall. And it was the Muehlebach. Chuck Dimond from the CBS affiliate in Phoenix was drinking with us. I spotted Cronkite first and casually said to Chuck "You'd better get over to the bar and have a drink with your leader." Then you all went over. I stayed at our table. Cronkite was the competition (enemy) in those days.

Tom Cochrun said...

Very good. The memory synapses are firing well for you. I needed a jumpstart. Remember coming away from the drinks as thinking what a great and down to earth guy he was. He actually asked me about a couple of things of Indiana politics. So did Hamilton Jordan and Jody Powell later that week--they knew the state and the players well.

Stephen Hayes said...

I was a big fan of these guys and always watched their broadcasts. How great that you got to meet them.

The Bug said...

I love hearing your stories!

Tom said...

All I can say to Joeh is that, after living in France for a number of years one becomes immunised. Although, perhaps that's why the French are into kissing rather than shaking hands!

Sharon Anck said...

OMG....I've turned into my grandmother....the first thing I thought of when I heard the "Huntley" story was "Yikes...He didn't wash his hands". :-)
Great photo and two very entertaining stories! You lived in Bismark North Dakota??

Should Fish More said...

"Goodnight David" "Goodnight Chet"......remember it well, they and Walter Cronkite could express distaste with a subtle expression. A batch of fine memories you have.

Catalyst/Taylor said...

Six years there, Sharon.

Thérèse said...

Such worthy belated news!