Remembering Peter: An Unforgettable Day

By Brian 

The Standard-Speaker in Hazelton, PA tells a story about the day a 10-year-old boy named Chad Wallace met Peter Jennings. Chad, “a news addict who suffers ongoing medical problems,” was invited to watch a World News Tonight broadcast in New York. Here’s what happened:

  As soon as the show went to its first commercial, Jennings looked over to Chad, who had been invited to spend time with the anchor in New York.

Jennings started talking with Chad when Peter did something that surprised many of us in the room.

He stood up, walked away from the desk, walked over to Chad, stood near him and started talking — about current events, about the show so far.

Time ticked by. Somewhere, someone with the production team said, ’30 seconds.’

But Peter remained by Chad.

Twenty-five seconds.

Twenty seconds.

Fifteen seconds.

At that point, Jennings said something to Chad, something along the lines of, ‘I’ll be right back,’ and walked back to the anchor’s chair.

That’s when his foot got tangled in a mess of wires on the floor of the set.

Ten. Jennings was standing on one leg, pulling at the wires, trying to free himself.



With about seven seconds left, Standard-Speaker photographer Ellen O’Connell — standing nearest to Jennings — dropped to one knee and untangled the cords.

Once free, Peter calmly strode the last few feet to the chair, dropped into it as the countdown hit zero, looked into the camera and picked up where he left off.

For those of us who were there that evening – which we jokingly refer to as ‘The Night Ellen Saved World News Tonight’ — it was pretty remarkable.

When he spoke into that camera, Jennings addressed roughly 10 million viewers.

On that night, those millions were secondary to one boy from northeastern Pennsylvania.

That was the kind of guy Peter was.

Jennings spent three hours with Chad that day, and walked back over to him during each commercial break. Here’s the full story…