Saturday, July 18, 2009

From Walter to Ed, then off to bed...

BobOnARoll is a child of the 60's....well, let's just say that I was a child IN the 60's. Two icons of those years passed away these last weeks, and, no, I'm not referring to Michael and Farrah.

Have always been a news and politics junkie and a sucker for a good laugh. So, having Walter Cronkite to kick off most evenings and Ed McMahon (and of course Johnny) to end them with spoofs and silliness created a comforting routine for a young kid just starting to become aware of a wider and fascinating world 'out there'. My parents would have to shoo me off to bed late at night in the middle of the Tonight Show, though perhaps they figured out that I often snuck back to catch a few more minutes.

Cronkite was among less than a handful of survivors of the Old School of reporting and broadcast journalism. And by Old School, I particularly admire the practicioners like Cronkite who made it all about the news and the important figures of the day and not at all about themselves. These days, by contrast, the on-camera personnel are performers, not journalists, and look alike, sound alike, talk alike, and think alike.

How ironic--and touching--that Cronkite leaves us virtually on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo lunar landing--a sequence of events whose narrative will forever belong to him.

McMahon, with Carson, was all about the gag and that infectious guffaw. In a simpler era, that defined adult entertainment for a young boy like me.

I guess what's confused and dismayed me since then has been the blend of news and entertainment values in broadcast and in print. A spoonful of sugar so that everything tastes good.

The passings of these men during this summer is a marker for me of something important that's been lost in the new millenium. And not easily or perhaps ever replaced. A mark of greatness.

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