Bob Orr logged 151 minutes of air time in 2014, making Andrew Tyndall’s annual list of reporters who dominate the evening newscasts. It’s safe to say Orr won’t make the list in 2015, as he’s calling it a career in February. TVNewser recently caught up with the veteran reporter to discuss his career, what he will miss and why he’s moving to Florida.
TVNewser: You’ve led CBS News’ coverage of basically every major story for the past 21 years. Is there one particular story that stands out?
Orr: The attacks of 9/11 provided an unprecedented challenge for TV news and the industry responded with record-setting coverage – more than 90 consecutive hours of broadcasting. I am proud to have played a small role. It was one of the few times I sat at the newsroom anchor desk fully aware that we were writing a first draft of history.
TVNewser: You’ve covered some major tragedies, including the Boston Marathon bombings, the shootings at Sandy Hook, and the DC-area sniper attacks. What tragedy impacted you to the point where you lost sleep at night?
Orr: The shootings at Sandy Hook literally brought me to tears. I struggled to keep it together through hours of special coverage. Even as I heard myself report the deaths of 20 first graders I couldn’t comprehend the horror.
TVNewser: What will you miss the most about your job?
Orr: The rush of adrenaline triggered by breaking news can be addictive, so in an odd way I will miss the chase for the next big story. But, as in any career, it’s the people who keep it interesting – friends, colleagues, and news-makers. I will miss all of them.
TVNewser: What is your favorite story of something humorous or bizarre that occurred when you were reporting from the field?
Orr: I was about half way through a morning live shot at the ValuJet crash in the Everglades in 1996 when I saw my cameraman’s eyes grow a little wider. About a minute later, as I finished the spot, the photographer said, “Don’t move too quickly, just walk calmly towards me.” Fortunately, the ten foot alligator sunning himself right behind me didn’t follow.
TVNewser: We’ve heard a rumor that you’re retiring to Florida, which seems pretty cliché. Was Arizona full?
Orr: My wife, Susie, and I like Gulf breezes better than cacti. And if you have seen any part of my 43-plus years in broadcasting then you already know I am not above clichés. I have always taken things one day at a time.
TVNewser: Bonus 6th Question, why retire?
Orr: It feels like the right time for me. I will let you know if it doesn’t work out.