The NBC News Night Report
February 23rd, 1967
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
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.
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!
(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.)
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
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
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.
5 (4:01): Len O'Connor comments on 38 years of mob hits in Chicago. Commercials
for Aurora toilet paper and Gala paper towels.
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
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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Rich Samuels (e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org)