The NBC News Night Report

February 23rd, 1967

Curator's note: The streaming video below is offered as a resource for students, practitioners and observers of television journalism who wish to ponder how the craft has evolved over the thirty-seven years since this broadcast aired on Chicago's WMAQ-TV. Many will find it instructive to compare this broadcast to the last 10pm newscast aired from the Merchandise Mart studios on September 30th, 1989 (featuring anchor Art Norman) and the first 10pm newscast from the NBC Tower (featuring anchors Carol Marin and Ron Magers).


February 23rd, 1967 was a heavy news day by any measure. Four inches of snow fell during the evening rush hour on a city that was still digging out from record-breaking blizzard of January 26/27. A strike by Cook County Hospital nurses that would have shut down the primary care facility for the city's poor was narrowly averted. "Operation Junction City", the largest operation to date in the Vietnamese war, had been launched earlier in the day. A select committee of the U.S. House of Representatives had voted to censure and fine New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. The presumed boss of Chicago's organized crime syndicate appeared in Federal court. And there was more.
Who better to handle all this than WMAQ-TV primary news anchor Floyd Kalber? He was at the zenith of his career and, in minds of some, on the verge of leaving Chicago for the NBC network. (At the end of January he'd filled in for a week as co-host of the "Today Show" in New York, leading to speculation that he'd soon be tapped permanently for the job.)

Floyd was a solo anchor at this point. He even handled sports. There were no reporter packages. Floyd did it all---with the exception of weather (handled by Harry Volkman who breezed into Chicago from Tulsa in 1959 to replace pioneer television meterologist Clint Youle, who'd priced himself out of the market) and commentary (delivered by Len O'Connor who'd been at NBC-Chicago seemingly forever).

In 1967, local stories were shot on film; material fed from the network was recorded on two-inch videotape. Note that rolling (and stopping) the tape machines touches off the electronic equivalent of a seismic event.

This broadcast survives on a black-and-white kinescope recording, though the program originally aired in color. I have no idea why this particular broadcast was thus recorded. Perhaps it was designed to be part of an awards submission.

In any case, enjoy! And learn!

The broadcast...

  • Segment 1 (3:05): Booth announcer Del Clark promos the following day's "Merv Griffin" show. Cold open on the evening's snowfall. Show open (the film studio rolls it late; the director takes it early; the audience views the last portion of the Academy leader). Commercial for American Airlines. (Given present day demographic concerns, this ad is significant: it's message seems to be that senior citizens should not fear flying in jet aircraft.)
  • Segment 2 (6:28): Cook County Hospital nurses call off proposed strike. Vietnam war update. House committee recommends censure and fining of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (including two sound bites from the committee chairman, Democratic Congressman Emanuel Celler of Brooklyn). General Motors workers in Mansfield, Ohio, end wildcat strike. Back-to-back commercials for Kellogs Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies.
  • Segment 3 (4:51): The weather with Harry Volkman. Harry admits he was blindsided by the evening snowfall. Segment (sponsored by Commonwealth Edison) includes the classic "Little Bill" commercial premised on the decreasing cost of electricity.
  • Segment 4 (3:35): Update on New Orleans prosecutor Jim Garrison's investigation into the death of JFK (conspiracy theorists take note). Jury selection for the trial of accused mass-murderer Richard Speck continues in Peoria. Demolition begins of McCormick Place (destroyed by fire in January). Prosecutors David Schippers and Samuel Betar resign from the staff of U.S. Attorney Edward Hanrahan. Reputed Chicago mob chief Sam "Teetz" Battaglia pleads not guilty to Federal extortion charges (cameras were allowed in the Federal Building in those days). Commercial for "Baggies" with a clumsily-produced local tie-in.
  • Segment 5 (4:01): Len O'Connor comments on 38 years of mob hits in Chicago. Commercials for Aurora toilet paper and Gala paper towels.
  • Segment 6 (3:37): Floyd does sports and reads the Wall Street update (the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 846.77). Commercial for L&M cigarettes in which a bunch of guys (including a token Black) puff away in a hunting lodge festooned with rifles.
  • Segment 7 (2:06): Harry Volkman recaps the weather. Floyd recaps the headlines and delivers the Kalber kicker. Booth announcer Del Clark reads a PSA touting brotherhood and promos the "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." Show close.

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Experimental Television: 1930-1933 | Bob Deservi | Kermit Slobb | Ding Dong School | Quiz Kids
Bob Lemon | The Korshak Chronicles | KYW: The Chicago Years | WENR | O.B. Hanson | Renzo
Jack Eigen | Ed Grennan | The World's Best Cup of Coffee | Glenn Webster | Mr. Piano | Hawkins Falls
Chicago Television for Kids |
Radio Hall of Fame |The NBC News Night Report: 23 February, 1967
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