Tom Brokaw

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Tom Brokaw
Tom Brokaw 2014 (cropped).jpg
Brokaw with his Peabody Award, May 2014
Born Thomas John Brokaw
(1940-02-06) February 6, 1940 (age 74)[1]
Webster, South Dakota, U.S.
Education Degree in politics and journalism from University of South Dakota
Occupation Television journalist, author
Years active 1966–present
Notable credit(s) Today co-anchor
(1976–1981)
NBC Nightly News anchor
(1982–2004)
NBC News Special Correspondent
(2004–present)
Meet the Press moderator
(2008)[2]
Spouse(s) Meredith Lynn Auld (1962–present)
Children Jennifer Jean Brokaw
Andrea Brooks Simon
Sarah Auld Brokaw

Thomas John "Tom" Brokaw (/ˈbrkɔː/; born February 6, 1940) is an American television journalist and author best known as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004. He is the author of The Greatest Generation (1998) and other books and the recipient of numerous awards and honors. He is the only person to host all three major NBC News programs: The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and, briefly, Meet the Press. He now serves as a Special Correspondent for NBC News and works on documentaries for other outlets.

Early life[edit]

Tom Brokaw (left) greeting the 20,000th visitor to the Gavins Point Dam in 1958. Brokaw was a tour guide there.

Brokaw was born in Webster, South Dakota, the son of Eugenia "Jean" (nee Conley, November 13, 1917 - November 9, 2011),[3] who worked in sales and as a post-office clerk, and Anthony Orville "Red" Brokaw (1912-1982).[4] He was the eldest of their three sons and was named after his maternal great-grandfather, Thomas Conley. His father was a descendant of Huguenot immigrants Bourgon and Catherine (nee Le Fèvre) Broucard, and his mother was Irish-American.[5] His paternal great-grandfather, Richard P. Brokaw, founded the town of Bristol, South Dakota, and the Brokaw House, a small hotel and the first structure in Bristol.[6]

Brokaw's father was a construction foreman for the Army Corps of Engineers. He worked at the Black Hills Ordnance Depot (BHOD) and helped construct Fort Randall Dam; his job often required the family to resettle during Brokaw's early childhood.[7] The Brokaws lived for short periods in Bristol, Igloo (the small residential community of the BHOD), and Pickstown, before settling in Yankton, where Brokaw attended high school.[5][7]

As a high school student attending Yankton Senior High School,[8] Brokaw was governor of South Dakota American Legion Boys State, and in that capacity he accompanied then South Dakota Governor Joe Foss to New York City for a joint appearance on a TV game show. It was to be the beginning of a long relationship with Foss, whom Brokaw would later feature in his book about World War II veterans, The Greatest Generation.

Tom Brokaw dropped out of the University of Iowa, where he says he majored in "beer and co-eds" before receiving his B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion in 1964.[8]

Broadcasting career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Brokaw's television career began at KTIV in Sioux City, Iowa followed by stints at KMTV in Omaha, Nebraska, and WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia.,[9] In 1966, he joined NBC News, reporting from California and anchoring the 11 p.m. news for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles. In 1973, NBC made Brokaw White House correspondent, covering the Watergate scandal, and anchor of the Saturday editions of Nightly News. He became host of NBC's Today Show in 1976 and remained in the job until 1982.

Nightly News[edit]

Brokaw preparing for a live broadcast in the aftermath of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

On April 5, 1982, Brokaw began co-anchoring NBC Nightly News from New York with Roger Mudd in Washington. After a year, NBC News president Reuven Frank concluded that the dual-anchor program was not working and selected Brokaw to be sole anchor.[10] The NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw commenced on September 5, 1983. Among other news items, he covered the Challenger disaster, EDSA Revolution, Loma Prieta earthquake, fall of the Berlin Wall and Hurricane Andrew.[citation needed]

As anchor, Brokaw conducted the first one-on-one American television interviews with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was the only network anchor in Berlin when the Berlin Wall fell. He and Katie Couric hosted a prime-time newsmagazine, Now, that aired from 1993–94 before being folded into the multi-night Dateline NBC program.[citation needed]

Brokaw with Vladimir Putin before an interview on 2 June 2000.

On September 11, 2001, Brokaw joined Katie Couric and Matt Lauer around 9:30 a.m., following the live attack on the South Tower of the World Trade Center, and continued to anchor all day, until after midnight. Following collapse of the second tower, Brokaw observed:

This is war. This is a declaration and an execution of an attack on the United States."[11][12]

He continued to anchor coverage to midnight on the following two days. Later that month, a letter containing anthrax was addressed to him as part of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Brokaw was not harmed, but two NBC News employees were infected. In 2008, he testified before the Commission on Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism about the anthrax attacks, publicly discussing his experiences for the first time in a detailed, day-by-day account.[13]

In 2002, NBC announced that Brokaw would retire as anchor of the NBC Nightly News following the 2004 Presidential election, to be succeeded by Brian Williams. Brokaw would remain with NBC News in a part-time capacity through 2014, serving as an analyst and anchoring and producing documentary programs. Brokaw closed his final Nightly News broadcast in front of 15.7 million viewers on NBC on December 1, 2004, by saying:

That's Nightly News for this Wednesday night. I'm Tom Brokaw. You'll see Brian Williams here tomorrow night; and I'll see you along the way.

By the end of his time as Nightly News anchor, Brokaw was regarded as the most popular news personality in the United States. Nightly News had moved into first place in the Nielsen ratings in late 1996[14] and held on to the spot for the remainder of Brokaw's tenure on the program, placing him ahead of ABC's Peter Jennings and World News Tonight, and CBS's Dan Rather and the CBS Evening News

Brokaw in 2006 speaking about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Along with Jennings and Rather, Brokaw helped usher in the era of the TV news anchor as a lavishly compensated, globe-trotting star in the 1980s. The magnitude of a news event could be measured by whether Brokaw and his counterparts on the other two networks showed up on the scene. Brokaw's retirement in December 2004, followed by Rather's ouster from the CBS Evening News in March 2005, and Jennings' death in August 2005, brought that era to a close.[citation needed]

After Nightly News[edit]

After leaving the anchor chair, Brokaw remained at NBC as Special Correspondent, providing periodic reports for Nightly News. He served as an NBC analyst during the 2008 presidential election campaign[15] and moderated the second presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain at Belmont University. He reported documentaries for the Discovery Channel and the History Channel and in 2006 delivered one of the eulogies during the state funeral of former President Gerald R. Ford.

On June 13, 2008, when NBC interrupted its regular programming to announce the sudden death of NBC News Washington Bureau Chief and Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert, Brokaw served as the announcer. A week later, NBC announced that Brokaw would serve as host of Meet the Press on an interim basis. He was succeeded by David Gregory in December 2008.

Brokaw serves on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the International Rescue Committee. He is also a member of the Howard University School of Communications Board of Visitors and a trustee of the University of South Dakota, the Norton Simon Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the International Rescue Committee. He also provides the voiceover for a University of Iowa advertisement that airs on television during Iowa Hawkeyes athletic events.[16]

On May 29, 2011, Brokaw began hosting The Boys in the Hall, a baseball documentary series for Fox Sports Net.[17]

In December 2012, Brokaw starred in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's annual Christmas concert, with live audiences of 84,000 and a nationally televised broadcast titled Home for the Holidays.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Since 1962, he has been married to Meredith Lynn Auld, who is an author and former Miss South Dakota. They have three daughters, Jennifer Jean, Andrea Brooks and Sarah Auld and five grandchildren. Brokaw and his wife spend considerable time at his ranch on the West Boulder River near Livingston, Montana, that he bought in 1989.[18][19]

On September 6, 2012, Brokaw was hospitalized after appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe. He later tweeted that he was "All well" and explained his illness as having accidentally taken half a dose of Ambien in the morning.[20]

Tom Brokaw was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer affecting blood cells in the bone marrow, in August 2013 at the Mayo Clinic.[21] Brokaw and his physicians are "very encouraged with his progress."[22] Brokaw has continued to work for NBC throughout his treatments.[23][24]

Career timeline[edit]

Books[edit]

Brokaw signing a book in Seattle in 2007

Awards[edit]

Public and industry awards[edit]

  • Peabody Award for a report called To Be An American;
  • Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for excellence in broadcast journalism for Dateline NBC documentary special Why Can't We Live Together on hidden realities of racial separation in suburban America;
  • Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for excellence in broadcast journalism for his interview with Mikhail Gorbachev;
  • seven Emmy Awards including one for China in Crisis special report;
  • 1990 National Headliner Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews for advancing the understanding of religion, race and ethnicity;
  • 1992 Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media presented by the Freedom Forum;
  • 1993 Emmy award for reporting on floods in the Midwest;
  • 1995 Dennis Kauff Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism from Boston University;
  • 1995 Lowell Thomas Award from Marist College;
  • 1997 University of Missouri School of Journalism Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism;
  • 1998 Fred Friendly First Amendment Award, a tribute to those "individuals whose broadcast career reflects a consistent devotion to freedom of speech and the principles embodied in the First Amendment.";
  • 1998 American Legion award for distinguished public service in the field of communication;
  • 1998 Citizens' Scholarship Foundation of America's President's Award recognizing "devotion to helping young people through scholarships.";
  • 1999 Congressional Medal of Honor Society's "Tex" McCrary Excellence in Journalism Award;
  • 1999 Emmy award for international coverage of the Kosovo conflict;
  • 2002: Paul White Award, Radio Television Digital News Association[26]
  • 2005 Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences;
  • 2005 Four Freedoms Medal: Freedom of Speech And Expression;
  • 2006 Washington State University Edward R. Murrow School of Communications Lifetime Achievement in Broadcasting Award;
  • 2006 Sylvanus Thayer Award: United States Military Academy at West Point;
  • 2006 Walter Cronkite Award for Journalism Excellence at Arizona State University;
  • 2006 Induction into the Television Hall of Fame;
  • 2007 Horatio Alger Award for overcoming adversity to achieve success through the American free enterprise system from the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Inc.;
  • 2011 Charles Osgood Lifetime Achievement Award in Broadcast Journalism from WFUV (90.7 FM);
  • 2012 The Nichols-Chancellor's Medal awarded by Vanderbilt University;[27]
  • 2012 Ken Burns Lifetime Achievement Award awarded at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts;
  • 2014 Peabody Award for enhancing his reputation since he left the NBC News desk in 2004.[28]

Honorary degrees[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tom Brokaw Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story". The Biography Channel. Retrieved June 25, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Tom Brokaw – Council on Foreign Relations". Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  3. ^ "Eugenia Conley Brokaw Obituary". 
  4. ^ "Tom Brokaw Biography (1940–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  5. ^ a b McGuire, John M. (November 6, 2002). "From Yankton to Yankee Town". St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. E1.
  6. ^ Brokaw, Tom. (2003). A Long Way from Home: Growing Up in the American Heartland in the Forties and Fifties, p. 9. New York: Random House.
  7. ^ a b Jordan, Larry (February 1995). "Tom Brokaw: A Heavyweight in a World of Lightweights". Midwest Today.
  8. ^ a b "Tom Brokaw – Biography". Yahoo! TV. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  9. ^ Wishart, David J. (2004). Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. University of Nebraska Press. p. 507. ISBN 9780803247871. 
  10. ^ Frank, Reuven. Out of Thin Air: The Brief Wonderful Life of Network News (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991), pp. 383–84.
  11. ^ Owen, Rob (September 12, 2001). "Tuned In: This was reality TV at its most horrific". Post-gazette.com. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  12. ^ "NBC World Trade Center Part 12: YouTube (accessed 2009-11-22)". Youtube.com. 2007-11-21. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  13. ^ [1], c-spanvideo.org; accessed February 19, 2014.
  14. ^ "CBS tops Nielsens 2nd week in row". SFGate.com (San Francisco Examiner). 1997-03-12. 
  15. ^ "Inside Cable News". Insidecable.blogsome.com. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  16. ^ "The University of Iowa, Tom Brokaw, and because each student (and young) with their research should Alt". Online University. Retrieved 2010-03-16. [dead link]
  17. ^ "Fox Sports Net Orders ‘The Boys in the Hall’ Baseball Series, Hosted by Tom Brokaw". Media Bistro. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  18. ^ OKeefe, Eric (May 1, 2007). "The Tom Brokaw Interview". Land Report. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  19. ^ Ronnow, Karin (September 17, 2006). "‘Big Sky Cooking’". Montana Standard. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  20. ^ "UPDATE: Tom Brokaw Says He’s Fine After Hospital Run". Deadline. Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  21. ^ http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/tom-brokaw-diagnosed-cancer-prognosis-encouraging-n27871
  22. ^ Byers, Dylan (11 February 2014). "NBC's Tom Brokaw diagnosed with cancer". POLITICO. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  23. ^ Duke, Alan (11 February 2014). "Tom Brokaw reveals cancer diagnosis; doctors are 'optimistic'". CNN. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  24. ^ Winograd, David (11 February 2014). "Tom Brokaw Reveals He Has Cancer". TIME. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h "Tom Brokaw - Nightly News with Brian Williams - MSNBC.com". Msnbc.msn.com. June 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  26. ^ "Paul White Award". Radio Television Digital News Association. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  27. ^ "Brokaw to Vanderbilt grads: Become the next 'greatest generation'". 
  28. ^ 2013 Peabody Awards
  29. ^ "One Hundred Sixty Fourth Annual Commencement". 
  30. ^ "Tom Brokaw to speak at MSU Feb. 28". Montana State University. Retrieved September 4, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Barbara Walters and Jim Hartz
Today Co-Anchor with Jane Pauley
June 7, 1976 – December 31, 1981
Succeeded by
Jane Pauley and Bryant Gumbel
Preceded by
John Chancellor
NBC Nightly News Anchor
April 5, 1982 – November 24, 2004
(co-anchor with Roger Mudd until September 5, 1983)
Succeeded by
Brian Williams
Preceded by
Tim Russert
Meet the Press Moderator
June 29, 2008 – December 7, 2008
Succeeded by
David Gregory