Today is a sad day for those of us who like to start off their Sunday mornings with CBS Sunday Morning. It’s the day we say goodbye to the man who has anchored that venerable institution for the past 22 years. Charles Osgood is retiring from the show this morning.
In watching their farewell tribute to Osgood, “Celebrating Charlie“, this morning, I felt a twinge of sadness. I’m old enough to remember Osgood before he started wearing his signature bowtie, when he used to anchor the CBS Sunday Night News. I’ve always been a fan of his delightful radio show “The Osgood File“. And not having Charlie’s folksy demeanor to help us get through a nation of crazy news every Sunday morning won’t feel right for awhile, especially since I’ve never been a huge fan of the person officially named as his successor this morning, Jane Pauley. I was hoping it would be either Mo Rocca, Lee Cowan, or Anthony Mason. I’m sure I’ll warm up to her, but it will take a little time. Which I’m sure is probably true for everyone else watching as well.
Still, there’s a lot to be said for today’s program, a delightful trip through Charlie’s life; his childhood as a baseball fanatic in Baltimore; his time in the Army Band; the revelation that he’s the co-writer of a Top 40 hit single; his prowess on many a musical instrument; and of course, his huge collection of bow ties. I loved seeing his beautiful vacation home in France, meeting his lovely wife of 42 years, seeing his children with their memories of their dad, and most of all, realizing that all the people that worked with him over the years on Sunday Morning are genuinely fond of him, and enjoy working with him as well.
The one thing that surprised me more than anything else was something that you don’t see happening very often on the traditional broadcast networks – personalities from other networks wishing him well. Clips from the whole crews at NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America, as well as evening news anchors David Muir of ABC and Lester Holt from NBC. And of course all of Charlie’s CBS compatriots were happy to offer a wish to him as well – Scott Pelley from the CBS Evening News, the team from CBS This Morning, and many other old friends and colleagues. Curiously, no one from Fox was included, and I would have thought Charlie had known or worked with some of their staple anchors and commentators – Bill O’Reilly, Brit Hume, Chris Wallace, and others – at some point in his life. Maybe they refused to participate – or maybe they weren’t asked. But it did seem a bit odd that they weren’t included in this network-bipartisan tribute. The best of the tributes, and showing the diversity of the audience and the true nature of viewers, came from the now Santa Claus-esque David Letterman, who told the story about how he and his 12 year old son Harry watch it together ever week. How cool is that?
On the air since 1979, throughout a time when all the other weekday morning shows have been through dozens of anchor personalities, Sunday Morning has had just two – Osgood succeeded the legendary Charles Kuralt in 1994. I started watching when I was a senior in high school, off and on, but became a real regular devotee of the program just about five years ago – I have rarely missed it since then. It’s news of a different kind. And that news will continue on with just the third designated anchor in nearly 40 years on the air, the aforementioned Ms. Pauley, when the show returns in two weeks (NFL from London is on next Sunday morning…REALLY? Do we REALLY need more football?). And I’ll still be there. But granted, it won’t be QUITE the same. Because the man who has guided the show for so long has moved on. And he will be very much missed.
I’ll still continue to check out The Osgood File (on the web at http://theosgoodfile.com) every day. I think everyone else should too. And Mr. Osgood, thanks for making my Sunday morning a little brighter each week for my years as a viewer of your Sunday Morning. And like everyone else…I’ll see you on the radio…Cheers!