Charles Osgood: ‘It Amuses Me When People Are Surprised That We Have Younger Viewers’

By Gail Shister Comment

In case you haven’t noticed lately, “CBS News Sunday Morning” is not just for the dentured set.

“It amuses me when people are surprised that we have younger viewers,” says Charles Osgood, 79, the show’s anchor and poet-in-residence. “They said the same thing about ’60 Minutes.’ It’s part of the reason the show is so good.”

And so popular. Week in and week out, the quirky, understated ‘Sunday Morning’ routinely beats NBC’s “Sunday Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America Sunday” in terms of households, viewers, and adults 25-54.

With a median age of 59.8, viewers of “Sunday Morning” are certainly not young, but they are the youngest of the troika, if only by a matter of months. It rankles Osgood to no end that advertisers consider adults 55 and older as the walking dead.

“It’s a mistake to think that people over 54 don’t buy anything and don’t go anywhere,” says Osgood, who succeeded the late, great Charles Kuralt in 1994. “It’s patently untrue, as all of us, including advertisers, are aware.

“Being 65 does not mean you’re old anymore. You’ve got a lot of living to do. You’re not going to sit around and watch Lawrence Welk.” (To those under 60, check Wikipedia.)

Like Osgood, executive producer Rand Morrison objects to the stereotype of “Sunday Morning” as a show for old folks. (He prefers to think of them as grown-ups.)

“I deny the allegation,” says Morrison, 61. “My niece has a “Sunday Morning” app. Younger people come up to me and voice their opinions about the show. People, at different times of

their lives, are more or less likely to watch TV on Sunday morning.”

Morrison adds that many viewers, as with ’60 Minutes,’ have grown up with ‘Sunday Morning,’ which debuted in 1979. “It’s as much a part of their Sunday routine as breakfast and walking the dog.”

How long Osgood will continue his Sunday routine has not been determined beyond his signing a new three-year contract. As with many of his former colleagues at CBS, he does not plan to go gently into retirement.

“I’m not even close to being retired,” he says. “I have two jobs [including ‘The Osgood File’ on CBS Radio.] I’m very active. … There will come a time, obviously. .. I don’t think much ahead of that [his new contract], unless my health becomes a factor.”

Though his bow-tied appearance and relaxed cadence speak to a Gentleman of the Old School, Osgood is very plugged into the digital world. He uses an iPad, pays his bills on his iPhone, and can do his radio show from his homes in New York or in France, where he spends 10 weeks a year.

The appeal of Twitter eludes him, however.

“I don’t tweet,” Osgood says. “I’ve never felt the need to. I can’t ever remember saying ‘I wish I could tweet or Twitter.’”