Koppel Exits: How He Shaped Cable

By Brian 

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The NYDN’s David Hinckley says Ted Koppel “became one of the bridges between the traditional ‘Voice of God’ network news anchors — Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley — and today’s cable-news hosts.” He explains:

 Koppel and “Nightline” started with the specific mission of providing a nervous country with an objective nightly update on the fate of American hostages held in Iran.

The concept proved so popular that ABC kept it going after the hostages came home, with Koppel now focusing each show on other specific topics – the model that became the standard template for cable news/analysis programs.

Koppel also foreshadowed the cable generation by delivering his information with a hint of attitude: a slight inflection here, an ironic aside there. These were subtle signals most viewers wouldn’t even notice in today’s cable atmosphere, where many hosts sell their news product like carnival barkers, but in 1980 he moved the needle.

In the same vein, he was a little more conversational than traditional news anchors, and that ball certainly picked up speed when other kids got hold of it.