ANDREW HEYWARD: Missie Rennie has been executive
producer of SUNDAY MORNING since 1992. She worked very closely with
Charles until he retired from the broadcast in 1994.
MISSIE RENNIE: Many people here today have talked about Charles
on the road. It was his off-the-road time that the SUNDAY MORNING staff
spent with him: We were his colleagues in the quiet time of the weekend
when no one else was in the building. We saw him as anchorman, as well
as story-weaver. Some of his remarkable anchor skills sometimes go unheralded.
As anchor of SUNDAY MORNING, Charles made us feel proud and made us
feel safe. We knew that any event in the world could happen on our clock
and Charles would know more about the subject than we could ever learnwhether
he was debriefing Ray Brady on the economy or dealing live with the
unfolding events of a bombing in Beirut or Baghdad.
As an anchor, he had a remarkable internal clock. He could narrate a
ten-minute piece live on the air, which he did regularly. I was a nervous
wreck in the control room; he just watched the pictures and spoke at
the right moment, as if it had all been skillfully put together by an
editor, in an editing room, over a week's time. At other times, I would
tell him we were 10 seconds short or 15 seconds long, and he would adlib
the addition or subtraction with no discussion. He knew how to pronounce
the name of every city in America. As we all debated whether it was
"Cay-ro" or "Cai-ro" Illinois, he knew the correct
pronunciationand how to add that local drawl to it, too. He also
had his own pace. One time, Ed Bradley was substituting for Charles
and we were reviewing the lineup. Ed's question: "How do I do those
Kuralt long pauses and have them seem natural?" We agreed only
Since Charles's death, our office has been overwhelmed. There is not
one member of our staff who has not received several personal letters
of condolence from friends. The calls, the letters, the e-mails, the
requests for cassettes of his work do not stop. In all that communication,
it has been remarkable to see how consistently friends and viewers use
the same language when referring to Charles"father, beloved
uncle, papa Charles, the frumpy guy with the velvet voice, grandfather,
teacher, star, son, the soul of the nation."
In fact, one viewer, Jeff Neterval, wrote to ask that a new word be
added to the dictionary: "kuraltian: the ability or quality to
bring to light what is best in anyone or anything, no matter what value
the rest of the world has assigned to that person or place."
I have a feeling that Jeff and some of the other people who wrote that
and so many other letters are in this audience today. So many of our
viewers called to ask when the memorial service was because they'd drive
down from Maine or up from Louisiana to be here. It all fits. On the
15th anniversary of the SUNDAY MORNING broadcast, Annie Huckabee drove
up from Virginia on the morning of the broadcast to deliver an anniversary
cake she had baked for Charles for the occasion. Soon after arriving
at the front desk of CBS News, Annie found herself in our studio, being
served coffee by Charles. She wrote us last week to assure us that,
somehow, a box of cigars and a fine bottle of vodka were making this
last trip with Charles. He would've lovedthat
story. What we miss is the way he would've told it.
An intellectually stimulating collection of insightful
and occasionally poignant commentaries, Charles Kuralt's People is
very highly recommended reading for students of the human condition in
and legions of Charles Kuralt fans in particular. — Midwest Book
for more info.
Hard cover, 386 pages, $25.95 plus $3.95 Priority
Mail shipping. (NC residents must add 6 percent sales tax.)
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About Kenilworth Media
Publishers of the first edition of "Remembering Charles Kuralt,"
now carried by The Globe Pequot Press, Kenilworth Media is a small,
Asheville, North Carolina-based publishing firm committed to advancing
the life works of Charles Kuralt.