I’m sitting in my house watching CBS News Sunday Morning. I knew this week’s show was dedicated to the late, great host of the show, Charles Osgood. I wasn’t prepared though, for how emotional I got watching it. I met him. More about that in a minute.
First of all, Charles Osgood died this week. He was 91. Charles Osgood was a legendary broadcaster. Television and radio. His Osgood File on the CBS Radio Network was one of the longest running features in radio history. It was a clear example of how he viewed his craft and a textbook for every journalist working today. On writing, Osgood said, “Short words. Short sentences. Short paragraphs. There’s nothing that’s can’t be improved by making it shorter and better.”
Charles Osgood made it look easy. His witty writing. The poems. The piano playing. The bow ties. I know of a young news reporter from Paris, Texas, that patterned a career after Charles Osgood.
I recall meeting him. I was working in San Antonio, Texas, for the CBS station. Something big was happening. I think it was the opening of Sea World. Celebrities were coming to town. I was sent to the airport to cover the arrival of Charles Osgood and Bob Keeshan. Can you imagine? Meeting my heroes… Charlie Osgood and Captain Kangaroo? I interviewed them both. Both as nice as you would want them to be.
When it was done, I said to Charles Osgood I want my career to be like yours. He sat there and talked to me and gave me advice about the news industry. I’ll never forget that.
A great many people have talked about Charles Osgood these last few days. The woman that succeeded him on Sunday Morning, Jane Pauley, says she sometimes channels her inner Charles Osgood asking, “How would Charlie say it.?” I know the feeling.
Jane also summed up his style with this… “Charlie just talked to you. You felt like you knew Charlie and he knew you.”
Jane quoted a Charles Osgood poem. Her favorite: “Powerful are those that choose the items that make up the news.
And yet in spite of all that power, it’s much like singing in the shower.
For it’s clear from card and letter, that you all think you would do it better.
Hahaha! I love that.
We are losing some of those legends of broadcasting that I grew up watching and was inspired by. My business is nothing like it was when CBS News was CBS NEWS. Big. Charles Osgood was part of the reason for that.
He would end his CBS Sunday Morning show with this: “I’ll see you on the radio.” It didn’t make a lot of sense, but for Charles Osgood it was the perfect sign off. I just wish we all could see him on the radio one more time.