Remembering Charles Kuralt
As a young child who grew up watching television, I often had the chance to catch a viewing of the CBS news series "Sunday Morning," featuring Charles Kuralt. Through his poetic imagery and vivid lines, Kuralt filled my head with images of people and places that existed far beyond my scope of worldly experience. He spoke of the beauty in these places as though, he too, were viewing them through the eyes of a child for the first time. He had the ability to get your attention, to pull you in, and to keep you on the edge of your seat until the story was finished. Charles Kuralt was, to me, the ultimate storyteller.
Although he is gone, his life lives on within the pages of Ralph Grizzle's new book, REMEMBERING CHARLES KURALT. Through countless interviews with Kuralt's family, friends, and colleagues, Kuralt's own life story is revealed for us to read.
Charles Bishop Kuralt was born in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 10, 1934. The book tells us that his parents, Wallace and Ina Kuralt, were both college graduates who, because of the Great Depression, were forced to work extremely hard to find any decent career prospects. His father was a UNC graduate with a Phi Beta Kappa key and a degree in commerce. His mother was a graduate of East Carolina Teachers College. The two met on an eight-week, cross-country trip sponsored by UNC. Shortly before Christmas of 1931, Wallace proposed to Ina, and the two were married. The book goes on to explain that young Charles became very familiar with relocating, as his father was forced to move frequently in order to obtain success and growing career stability. This constant moving could offer some insight into Charles Kuralt's nomadic interests as an adult.
As the book progresses, we learn about young Kuralt's first signs of independent thinking. As a kindergarten student at St. Agnes Academy in Washington, Charles was said to have asked the school's Sister Rosalind, "If thou shalt worship no graven images, then what are all those statues of the Virgin Mary and the saints doing around the school?" Although the other nuns found his question to be inappropriate, Sister Rosalind smiled and promoted Kuralt to the first grade.
It was at the age of six that Charles first dreamed of becoming a reporter. When he turned 13, in 1948, he was already working in radio. ABC-affiliate WAYS gave Kuralt his own radio show, "Junior Sports Parade." He would host the show every Tuesday afternoon. The position did not pay, but Charles was not in it for the money. He loved covering high school and junior high school sports and hoped to someday be a sportswriter for the Charlotte News. As I read further, I discovered that the road to success for Charles Kuralt was never ending. Each step along the way proved to be a stepping stone to something greater. At the young age of 16, Charles began his freshman year at the University of North Carolina. A few years later he ran for editor of the school newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, and won by a narrow margin of 2,944 to 1,585. Oddly enough, Charles left Chapel Hill in the summer of 1955, without a degree, to take a job with the Charlotte News. Because Charles had failed to complete a couple of physical education courses, he did not receive his degree. It was not until 10 years later that the University modified its graduation requirements, allowing Charles to receive his bachelor of arts in History, not in Journalism as has been widely reported.
In the next section of the book, Ralph Grizzle goes into Kuralt's years at CBS, 1957-1994, and his rise to stardom with his news segment, "On The Road." This section of the book includes interviews with Walter Cronkite, Bernie Birnbaum, Andy Rooney, and other colleagues at CBS. I found this section most interesting because of the inside perspective it provides the reader into Kurlat's life behinds the scenes. Each interview brings to life a different side of the man so many of us saw as a regular on CBS news.
To sum things up, REMEMBERING CHARLES KURALT is a great book for the reader who wants more than just facts and time lines. The book provides a very in-depth look into the life of Charles Kuralt and his road to success. The interviews within add a very personal touch to the story, making this book not only informative, but enjoyable to read.
--- Reviewed by Jonathan P. Lamas (firstname.lastname@example.org) (c) Copyright 2000, Bookreporter.com. All rights reserved.
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