|Charles Bishop Kuralt
(Journalist, Broadcaster, Author; Radio, Television and Film personality)
Birthplace: Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S.A.
Education: University of North Carolina
1955 American Adventure
Charles Kuralt High School Annual photo circa 1950
UNC Tar Heel, Charles Kuralt circa 1954
Kuralt's 1955 campaign flyer for Daily Tar Heel Editor
Kuralt parleys a CBS Journalism Award into a full-time job with their News Bureau circa 1958.
|Charles Kuralt was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1934, a true Tar Heel. While attending the University of North Carolina, he was an active member in many campus organizations: Order of the Grail, Order of the Old Well, Phi Eta Sigma, and St. Anthony Hall. Despite all these extra-curricular activities, Charles Kurant spent the overwhelming majority of his time at The Daily Tar Heel--UNC's student newspaper, which he edited his senior year. Indeed, it's reported that Kuralt spent so much time at the Tar Heel that he ended up failing all of his other Senior classes. Kuralt was later given his diploma once he became a distinguished journalist.
Now straight out of college--sans degree-- Charles Kuralt worked as an intern at The Charlotte News. Within the year, he'd won CBS's Ernie Pyle Award. Instead of accepting the award and feeling proud, young Charles asked, "if you like my work, why don’t you just hire me."
They did. Charles Kuralt became CBS's youngest correspondent--at age 25. Kuralt covered the Vietnam War and stories throughout the world, including 23 Latin American countries. Gentle man that he was, Charles Kuralt did not enjoy war--nor covering war. Kuralt dropped hard news reporting and took to the road to do his own show called "On the Road with Charles Kuralt."
In the course of his career, Charles Kuralt was nominated for 13 Emmys, numerous other broadcasting awards, and had books on the New York Times Best Seller List several times. He helped the entire country learn to recognize that 'good news' is news. Charles Kuralt had a special talent for storytelling and finding interesting people to tell stories about. For his show, he criss-crossed the country searching for people who uniquely represented America and Americans.
Charles Kuralt would remain with CBS for the remainder of his professional career. His first assignment was writing the five-minute radio broadcasts that aired hourly between two and six AM. He began work each day at midnight, and worked until eight in the morning--thrilled to be working in the same building as his hero, Edward R. Murrow.
After only a week of substituting for a vacationing writer on Murrow's nightly broadcast, Kuralt was transferred to the fledgling television news department, as a writer for the CBS Evening News. A writer's job was considered a plum position for a novice like Kuralt, but he was eager to be a reporter--out in the field. Indeed, Kuralt took a cut in pay to return to the graveyard shift--this time as a reporter contact on the assignment desk, where he might have the opportunity to cover breaking news.
Within the year CBS offered him the job of his dreams. He was 25, and now had the title of CBS News Correspondent, just like his idols, Edward R. Murrow and Eric Sevareid. Kuralt was everywhere, covering political conventions, presidential campaigns, wars in the Congo, Laos and Vietnam, school integration in the South and piracy on the high seas.
By 1960, he was the first host of the prime time TV series Eyewitness. As Chief Latin American Correspondent he visited all 23 nations of the region. In 1963 he served as Chief West Coast Correspondent for CBS and then returned to the New York Bureau.
But it was in October 1967, that he began to travel the back roads of America, producing his famous "On the Road" segments for the CBS Evening News. Over the next 20 years, Kuralt and his crew visited every state of the Union in their battered motor home, logging more than a million miles in the process.
Kuralt and his three-man team did stories on "wrestlers and jugglers and mountain climbers, traffic cops, tattoo artists, gandy dancers, sheep shearers, bagel bakers, horseshoe players, rodeo riders, sorghum makers and seashell collectors." Kuralt's discoveries included a 104 year-old jogger, a man who lived in a house made of beer bottles, and the owner of the world's largest ball of string.
Well into the 1980s, Charles Kuralt continued to report from the road, all the while flying back to New York each weekend to anchor the CBS Sunday Morning show. During the Persian Gulf crisis, he co-anchored the nightly CBS News broadcast America Tonight. Over the course of his career, he won three Peabody awards and ten Emmy Awards for his broadcast journalism. Charles Kuralt died in New York City at the age of 62.
Kuralt made a career of searching for the insignificant and elevating it to prose and visual poetry. He kept pitching the idea of "On the Road" at CBS until the network agreed to a three-month trial in 1967. His first stop was Vermont for a piece on the fall foliage, with this Kuralt narration:
"It is death that causes this blinding show of color, but it is a fierce and flaming death. To drive along a Vermont country road in this season is to be dazzled by the shower of lemon and scarlet and gold that washes across your windshield."
Kuralt brought the same outlook and sensibility to CBS's "Sunday Morning" for 15 more years. "All good television is about telling stories," said "60 Minutes" executive producer Don Hewitt. "Nobody told them better than Charles Kuralt."
He found a butcher who could hold 30 eggs in one hand, a swimming pig in a water-ballet show, a light bulb that had stayed lit in a firehouse since 1901. He did pieces on a school for unicyclists, gas station poets, horsetraders and a 104-year-old entertainer who performed in nursing homes.
"The kind of stories I like best are light and funny ones," Kuralt once said. "People overcoming obstacles -- a farmer who builds a yacht to see the world, or a man who's irritated there isn't a straight road from Duluth to Fargo and spends 25 years building one."
Kuralt also wrote several books: "To The Top of the World," "Dateline America," "On the Road with Charles Kuralt," "Southerners," "North Carolina Is My Home," and "A Life on the Road."
Kuralt continued to work for CBS until 1994 and on July 4, 1997 died from heart failure and lupus.
Radio and Television Announcer; Journalist; News Director
Birthplace: Goldsboro, North Carolina, U.S.A.
Education: B.A., English; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
1955 American Adventure
1979 Morning Edition
1997 Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me
Carl Kasell circa 2002
Carl Kasell circa 2000
Carl Kasell circa 2005
|Carl Kasell is an American radio personality, most widely known as a newscaster for National Public Radio. A native of Goldsboro, North Carolina, Kasell was a student of drama in high school, where one of his mentors was Andy Griffith, then a high school drama instructor. Although Griffith urged Kasell to pursue a career in Theatre, Kasell took to Radio at an early age as well. During his time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he helped launch local radio station WUNC with fellow student Charles Kuralt. He worked as an announcer and DJ at a radio station in Goldsboro before moving to the Washington, DC area in 1965. He advanced to the position of news director at WAVA in Arlington, Virginia. As News Director in Virginia, he hired Katie Couric as an intern one summer. He joined National Public Radio's staff as a news announcer in 1975.
He has been the news announcer for NPR's Morning Edition since its inception in 1979. In 1998, Kasell was finally able to join the phenomenon of radio game shows which attracted him to the genre in his youth when NPR launched its weekly news quiz, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, with Kasell as official judge and scorekeeper. The prize that Wait Wait... offers to its listener contestants is a recording of Kasell's voice for their personal telephone answering machines. He is a member of the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame. In 1999, Kasell shared in the George Foster Peabody Award given to Morning Edition.
Here's more on Carl Kasell from the NPR website:
Carl Kasell is the official judge and scorekeeper for NPR's weekly news quiz show, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, which premiered in January 1998. Kasell also provides newscasts at the top of each hour throughout NPR's daily newsmagazine Morning Edition, a role he has held since the program's inception in 1979. A veteran broadcaster, Carl Kasell's radio career spans more than 50 years.
Before his work with Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, Kasell hosted NPR's Early Morning Edition, a one-hour news program created in 1997 and incorporated into Morning Edition at the start of 1998.
In 2001, Kasell was awarded the Development Exchange Inc's (DEI) President's Award for his lifetime contributions to public radio. In 1996, Kasell was honored with the Leo C. Lee Friend of Public Radio News Award for lasting commitment to public radio journalism. He also received the Public Radio Regional Organization (PRRO) Award in 1991 for what a member of the selection committee called his "consistently flawless delivery" of newscasts.
Kasell joined NPR in 1975 as a part-time newscaster for Weekend All Things Considered, and later became a full-time NPR newscaster for Morning Edition. Prior to that, he spent ten years at radio station WAVA in Arlington, Virginia, first as morning anchor, then as news director.
Before moving to the Washington, D.C., area in 1965, Kasell was morning deejay and newscaster at WGBR-AM in Goldsboro, North Carolina.
Kasell was fascinated by radio at a young age, and recalls playing deejay with his grandmother's wind-up Victrola in Goldsboro. He worked at a local radio station part-time during high school, and was an actor in local theater.
Kasell is also an accomplished magician and a UNC basketball fan. He currently lives with his wife Mary Ann in Washington, DC.
When the University of North Carolina inducted Carl Kasell of National Public Radio (NPR) into its journalism hall of fame in 2004, he joined a list of distinguished names that includes David Brinkley, Charles Kuralt and, more recently, Charlie Rose, all best known for their work on television.
Not Carl Kasell: "I've been a radio guy since the git-go, starting out while I was still in high school at a station in my hometown of Goldsboro [N.C.]. I met Charles Kuralt in the mid-1950s when we both took radio and TV courses at UNC, but our careers took slightly different paths," recalls Kasell, who this year celebrates 30 years at NPR. "Charlie was more interested in print journalismhe became the editor of "The Daily Tar Heel"and I was already hooked on radio."
In 1965, Kasell took a job as a disc jockey at WPIK, a small station in Alexandria, Va., playing "country and western, pops, and in the mid-morning what was called 'music for the housewives.'" To supplement his income, he took a weekend job at WAVA, an early "all-news" station in nearby Arlington, and found that to his liking. In 1967 he "left the records behind" to join WAVA full time as an announcer, eventually moving up to news director.
"And then I got a call [in 1975] from a friend working at this new outfit called National Public Radio, who said they needed a part-time newscaster for 'Weekend All Things Considered.' I took that, went full-time in 1979, and have been here ever since."
Over the past three decades, Kasell has become one of the best-known members of the NPR family. In addition to his role (since 1977) as the newscaster on "Morning Edition," he is also the official judge and scorekeeper on NPR's weekly quiz show, "Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me!" an eclectic mixture of information, news and comedy. Host Peter Sagal fields answers from listeners, guests and members of a "panel of three experts" drawn from a group that includes comedian Paula Poundstone, Mo Rocca (former correspondent for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"), humorists P.J. O'Rourke and Roy Blount, Jr., and journalists Roxanne Roberts and Charlie Pierce. One of the show's staples is "Who's Carl This Time?" in which Kasell impersonates that week's quotable celebrity.
Let the envious be warned: Since 1979, Carl Kasell's work day has stretched from 2:00 a.m. to his final newscast at 11:00 a.m. He says that from the beginning, determined to spend time with his first wife, Clara, and their son, Joseph, he would sleep for three to three-and-a-half hours each afternoon, have dinner and visit with them, and then grab another nap later in the evening. Clara died of cancer in 1997; with Joseph married and living in Northern Virginia, he could have altered his routine, but by then was so used to it he didn't bother.
"There's the newscast family, and then there's the staff of 'Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me!' and they're a real hoot." (A prime example: When a female caller from Kentucky enthused over Kasell, panelist Mo Rocca replied, "Carl Kasell is a god. When we've done live shows, he walks out on the stage first. When he starts speaking and everyone recognizes the voice, women in their forties and fifties revert to their former teeny-boppers-at-the-Beatles-concert selves. They fling their tote bags asidemost of which have stray bananas mingled in with New Yorkers and Nationsand go nuts.")
All of those NPR families, large and small, showed up from various parts of the country in May 2003, when Kasell married widowed psychotherapist Mary Ann Foster, a native Washingtonian. They'd met in London at the wedding of "Morning Edition" producer Barry Gordemer. Peter Sagal officiated at a non-traditional ceremony; Cokie Roberts, Rocca and Bob Edwards (then still with NPR) were among the witnesses.
Long a fan of all sorts of radio shows, from quizzes and comedies to Saturday morning programs for kids, Kasell counts among his greatest thrills the time he met and had a long conversation with Fred Foy, the longest-running announcer/narrator on "The Lone Ranger." What Kasell likes so much about his current work on the air, especially with the quiz program, is that he is once again doing what he grew up in the business doing. While Kasell and his friend Charles Kuralt acted in a number of radio dramatizations at UNC, he says he never really caught the performing bug. Announcing the major news events of the day for five decades has always been enough excitement for him, he says, citing especially the fall of communism in 1991, the Challenger disaster, the bombing in Oklahoma City and 9/11.
Being a radio personality makes it easier for Carl Kasell to enjoy his privacy, but from time to time he is surprised to learn that he and his mellifluous voice are recognized.
Begun as a gimmick when the show's budgetary cupboard was bare, the most coveted prize on "Wait Wait" has become Kasell's voice on your answering machine. The winner writes the copy, and Kasell gives the reading his professional best. "That has blossomed and ballooned into the biggest thing," Kasell says. "It's hard to understand, but everybody seems to want 'the message,' and I have done hundreds over the past few years. They have me do anything from a straight message to singing a song or reciting a limerick and answering as if I were [their] cat!"
Retirement? Kasell answers the question with a story. "About 10 years ago in Boston I was on a program with the Smothers Brothers, and when I told Dickie I thought they'd have retired by now, he said, 'Retire is what people do from work. I don't call this work.' That's just how I feel about what I do."