Kuralt is best known for his critically acclaimed series of "On
The Road" television "essays" on America and for his fifteen year
tenure as host of the equally acclaimed CBS Sunday Morning
series on CBS television. Through a CBS network career spanning
thirty-seven years, this award winning journalist and author has
brought the life and vitality of back roads America to an eager
audience while providing a television home for the arts, the environment
and the offbeat.
began his career as a reporter-columnist in 1955 for the Charlotte
News. His penchant for unusual human interest stories found
a home in the News' daily "People" column which in turn earned
him the l956 Ernie Pyle Memorial Award. A year later he was recruited
for CBS. His first network job was to re-write wires and cables
from overseas correspondents for radio newscasts, but he quickly
advanced to the position of writer for CBS television's Douglas
Edwards With the News. In 1958, he moved to the CBS television
news assignment desk where he also covered fast-breaking stories.
A year later, he became a full-fledged correspondent--the youngest
person ever to win that position. His star continuing to rise, in
l960, he was chosen over Walter Cronkite to host a new CBS public
affairs series, Eyewitness to History. However, within four
months he was replaced by Cronkite and was moved back to general
assignment reporting. He was named chief of CBS' newly established
Latin American bureau during the Kennedy administration, then chief
West Coast correspondent in 1963. He also reported from various
global hot spots in Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia including
four tours of duty in Vietnam.
special reports to the documentary series, CBS Reports, and
anchoring several public affairs specials in addition to his regular
reporting duties, Kuralt began to tire of the grind and rivalry
inherent in daily reporting. To remedy this, he devised his plan
for "On the Road." After an initial negative reaction, he managed
to win minimal support from network executives who granted him a
three month trial.
three-month trial began in October 1967, and turned into a twenty-five-year
odyssey. With cameraman Izzy Bleckman and soundman Larry Gianneschi,
he logged more than one million miles in six motor homes while producing
approximately 500 "On the Road" segments. Staying off the interstates
and with no set itinerary, he -drew upon viewer letters, a state-by-state
clipping file, and occasional references from public relations firms
and local chambers of commerce to find unusual stories and unsung
heroes. He had total freedom to discover America.
In the early 1970s, CBS considered reassigning Kuralt but he was
ever reluctant to leave the road. He did serve as co-host with Sylvia
Chase on the short-lived CBS News Adventure in 1970, and
in May 1974, on Magazine, an afternoon news and features
program. He also contributed pieces to another short-lived prime-time
magazine show, Who's Who (1977). With Dan Rather and Barbara
Howar concentrating on more famous high-profile newsmakers, in typical
Kuralt fashion, he brought the Who's Who viewing audience such unlikely
characters as the inventor of the shopping cart, champion boomerang
throwers and an eighty-nine-year-old kite flyer.
network assurance that he could continue On the Road, on
28 January 1979, Kuralt assumed the anchor position on the new CBS
News Sunday Morning. Leisurely paced and low key in keeping
with its early Sunday morning time slot, the ninety-minute show
examined major headlines, provided a weekly in-depth cover story
and a series of special reports on law, science, the environment,
music, the arts, education and world affairs. In essence, with its
eclectic view of America, Sunday Morning became a natural
extension of "On the Road," providing an outlet for topics not regularly
covered on other newscasts. Commented Milton Rhodes, president of
the American Council for the Arts, in the June 1987 issue of Horizon:
"Nowhere else on television does a journalist of Kuralt's reputation
discuss the arts as regularly, as fully, and as intelligently as
eighteen months, Kuralt combined his Sunday Morning activities
with his ongoing "On the Road" reports, but in October 1980, he
left the road to become anchor for the daily morning network news
offering. Morning with Charles Kuralt would be criticized
for being too slow-paced for the time period and, in mid-March 1982,
Kuralt was replaced as anchor and sent back out on the road. Within
two years, his new "On the Road" reports became the centerpiece
of yet another short-lived prime time series, The American Parade.
Openly opposed to the fast paced, minimal information format of
many news broadcasts, through the years Kuralt has chastised television
executives for "hiring hair instead of brains." Quoted in TV
Guide on 2 April 1994, Kuralt said, "I am ashamed that so many
[anchorpersons] haven't any basis on which to make a news judgment,
can't edit, can't write, and can't cover a story." As TV Guide's
Neil Hickey reported, these are all things Kuralt can do and for
which he has been honored with eleven Emmy Awards and three Peabody
Into the 1990s, Kuralt continued his Sunday Morning efforts
and for an approximate five month period beginning in October 1990,
co--hosted the nightly news summary, America Tonight, four
nights a week with Leslie Stahl. Then on 3 April 1994, at the age
of fifty-nine, he retired from CBS with a poetic good-bye to his
audience at the conclusion of his Sunday Morning broadcast.
by Newsweek on 4 July l983, as "our beloved visiting uncle"
and a "deToqueville in a motor home," Kuralt worked to awaken America
to the beauty of its landscape, the depth and character of its people
and to the qualities of excellence possible in television journalism.
As a fitting tribute to a celebrated career, in April 1996, Kuralt
was honored for his lasting contributions with the National Association
of Broadcasters 1996 Distinguished Service Award.
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research
BISHOP KURALT. Born in Wilmington, North Carolina,U.S.A., 10
September 1934. Educated at University of North Carolina, B.A. 1955.
Married: Suzanna Folsom Baird, 1962; children by previous marriage:
Lisa Bowers White and Susan Guthery Bowers. Columnist and reporter
for the Charlotte (North Carolina) News, 1955-57; writer,
CBS News, 1957-59; correspondent, CBS News from 1959; first host
of Eyewitness, 1960; named CBS News chief Latin America correspondent,
1961; chief west coast correspondent, 1963; CBS News New York, 1964;
"On the Road" correspondent and host, from 1967; CBS Sunday Morning
News correspondent, from 1979, host, from 1980. Recipient: Ernie
Pyle Memorial Award, 1956; George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award,
1969, 1976, 1980; eleven Emmy Awards; International Radio-TV Society's
Broadcaster of the Year, 1985; Dupont-Columbia Award; George Polk
Award; National Association of Broadcasters Distinguished Service
Award, 1996. Died, New York City, New York, 4 July 1997.
SERIES (writer, correspondent, host)
CBS Evening News (writer)
1959- CBS News (correspondent)
1960-61 Eyewitness to History (host)
1967-80 On the Road (correspondent/host)
1970 CBS News Adventure
1977 Who's Who
1979-94 CBS News Sunday Morning (correspondent, host)
1980-82 Morning With Charles Kuralt
1984 The American Parade
1990 America Tonight
To The Top of the World: The First Plaisted Polar Expedition.
New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston,1968.
Dateline America. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1979.
"Point of View: This New News Isn't Good News." Chicago Tribune,
2 May 1982.
"On the Road with Charles Kuralt." Reader's Digest (Pleasantville,
New York), December 1983.
the Road with Charles Kuralt. New York: Putnam, 1985.
Portrait of a People. Nashville, Tennessee: Oxmoor House, 1986.
North Caroline Is My Home. Charlotte, North Carolina: East Woods
Journeys Through the South to Places 'Like Nowhere Else.'" Chicago
Tribune, 4 January 1987.
Life on the Road. New York: Putnam, 1990.
"The Rocky Road to Popularity." The Saturday Evening Post (Indianapolis,
Indiana), March 1991.
Up in North Carolina. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: North Carolina
Society, Inc., 1993
Kuralt's America. New York: Putnam, 1995.
Alridge, Ron. "Charles Kuralt Has His Act Together, As Usual, and
Is Taking It on the Road." Chicago Tribune, 3 March 1982.
Russell. "Gone with America." New York Times, 5 April 1994.
John. "CBS Sunday Morning: Free to Be Smart." Channels (New
York), October, 1986.
Bill. "A Charles Kuralt Visit Turns into 15 Years." New York
Times, 5 February 1994.
"Charles Kuralt Announces His Retirement." New York Times,
16 March 199.
Kenneth R. "Kuralt: 20 Years of Good News." Chicago Tribune,
17 June 1985.
Steve. "Keillor and Kuralt on the Prairie Beat." Chicago Tribune,
18 June 1987.
Fred. "A Gourmet at Large: Charles Kuralt, Television's Man on the
Road." Gourmet (New York) April 1996.
Walter. "Long Time on Less-Traveled Roads." New York Times,
4 May 1994.
Henry, William A. III. "'Kuralt' 0n the Road Again." Time
(New York), 2 April 1984.
Hickey, Neil. "Charles Kuralt Hits the Road." TV Guide (Radnor,
Pennsylvania), 2 April 1994.
National Conscience Has Awakened." U.S. News & World Report
(Washington, D.C.), 20 January 1986.
John. "Travels with Charlie." Car and Driver (New York),
Elizabeth. "Kuralt Returns to 'Road' Stop; Buys Minnesota Condo."
Broadcasting and Cable (Washington, D.C.), 4 September 1995.
Milton. "The Arts, Sunday Morning, and Charles Kuralt." Horizon
(Tuscaloosa, Alabama), June 1987.
Harry F. "Travels with Charlie and Bill." Newsweek (New York),
4 July 1983.