CBS’ Charles Osgood and NBC’s Brian Williams Among This Year’s Giants of Broadcasting

By Jerry Barmash 

(l to r) Jean Marie Condon (original executive producer, This Week with Christiane Amanpour), Amanpour, Katie Hinman (former producer, This Week) and Amanpour's assistant Maggie Thomas

Webster defines “Giant” as a person or thing of great size, intellect, etc.

Friday at a luncheon in New York, the Library of American Broadcasting honored nine individuals as Giants of Broadcasting.

The organization also gave the distinguished merit award to a program — “CBS Sunday Morning,” and the four people who made the show must-see TV each week for 32 years, including original host Charles Kuralt and current keeper of the Sunday Morning flame — Charles Osgood.

“The reason they’re honoring us, is certainly not for what we’re doing now, but for the years since it went on the air,” Osgood tells TVNewser.

He credits Kuralt, who died in 1995, and pioneering executive producer Robert “Shad” Northshield as the men with the show’s vision.

“They were the ones who really set the tone, [and] had the idea for doing a broadcast that would be a kind of a Sunday paper on the air,” Osgood says.

The time for the show, 9 a.m. eastern, allows a closer bond with the viewer.

“[You] can watch the broadcast with a second cup of coffee and the newspaper on the floor, maybe you’re in your slippers and bathrobe,” Osgood says. “So we feel it’s a kind of intimacy that you have with the audience.”

Sunday morning is also where viewers can find Christiane Amanpour, host of ABC’s “This Week.” Amanpour, who joined Friday’s select company at the Grand Hyatt, and was thrilled by the recognition.

“[It’s] pretty cool,” Amanpour says. “Especially since there are real giants here.”

One of those she singles out is Osgood.

“I actually sought advice from [him] before I became a journalist as I graduated from university,” Amanpour recalls. “He was one of the people I was lucky enough to meet. He told me it’s about telling the story, it’s facts, [and] it’s about writing.”

Another honoree known for his crisp writing and unflappable demeanor is the face of NBC News—Brian Williams.

Williams, who took over Nightly News in 2004 at age 43, is the most decorated network news anchor of the modern era. Adding to the Giants hardware on his mantle, Williams has earned 12 Emmys and 11 Murrows, among others.

“Of all the people you will honor I’m the luckiest,” Williams, 52, said in his acceptance speech. “I’m the one who pinches himself most often. I’m the one who asks on a daily basis, ‘How did I get from 20 miles from here across Raritan Bay as a college drop out to the greatest job in the world.’ I guess that’s what our industry and this gathering is all about.”

Williams would probably get an argument from Osgood. Retirement for the 78-year-old legend is not in his future. Osgood says he’ll host the show “as long as they’ll let me.”

“I’ve now been doing it for longer than Kuralt got to do it, and he was on the air for the first 15 years,” Osgood admits. “It’s a great assignment. It’s not the kind of thing that you decide to do or decide not to do. There are others who make that decision. I’m sure at some point they’ll decide that it’s time for somebody else.”

The longtime CNN chief foreign affairs correspondent, Amanpour, 53, says her age doesn’t help her “giant status.”

“I don’t consider myself older or young. It’s just nice to be here,” Amanpour, 53, laughs. “I am what I am.”

Other honorees:

Actor James Arness (posthumous), who for 20 years was synonymous with Marshall Dillon on Gunsmoke, the longest-running prime time Western
Rick Buckley, chairman and president of Buckley Radio
John F. Dille III, president of Federated Media and former chairman of NAB and RAB
Brian Lamb, creator, founder of C-SPAN
Dawson “Tack” Nail, Prominent reporter at Television Digest, Communications Daily, and Broadcasting & Cable
Fred Pierce, former president and COO at ABC
Frances Preston, former president and CEO of BMI