UNC Alumnus Honors Kuralt's Legacy
By Brooke Roseman
Daily Tar Heel Staff Writer
After one famous Tar Heel alumnus died in 1997, another Tar Heel graduate decided to eternalize him in the pages of a new book.
Ralph Grizzle, a 1990 graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will soon release his new book, "Remembering Charles Kuralt," in celebration of the well-loved broadcaster's life.
"This is not hero worship or anything on my part; I just have a great admiration for him," Grizzle said.
The book, which will roll off presses at the end of next week, is a collection of nearly 100 interviews with friends, family and colleagues of Kuralt.
Grizzle will be signing his book April 6 at Bull's Head Bookshop.
"The book starts in North Carolina and ends in North Carolina because that's where he ultimately came home to," Grizzle said.
He met Kuralt in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1994 when he was a reporter covering Kuralt's keynote speech at the American Society of Travel Agents' Annual World Congress.
Grizzle interviewed Kuralt for an hour after his speech and told Kuralt about his cross-country bicycle trip before he began his college career. Grizzle said the tables turned when Kuralt ended up interviewing him.
"It was so in keeping with his character," he said. "I think he expressed great admiration for what people had done."
This meeting with Kuralt inspired Grizzle to volunteer with the Kuralt Collection archivists and a group of fund-raisers after the broadcaster's death to collect an oral history of Kuralt told by his friends, family and colleagues in 1998.
Grizzle said he had little difficulties contacting Kuralt's former acquaintances. "I started by opening his books, and I looked at people he mentioned. Iactually used the Internet to find people and call them up," Grizzle said.
Grizzle said that throughout the interviewing process, he never encountered an enemy of Kuralt.
"I've never talked to anyone so universally loved. Everybody had such good things to say about him," Grizzle said.
Grizzle said many stories shared with him were fascinating glimpses into Kuralt's life.
"My favorite chapter is probably about his first girlfriend and for a lot of different reasons," Grizzle said.
He said she had won first place in a sportswriting contest for boys, a contest in which Kuralt finished second.
Grizzle said he also liked Kuralt's commemorative speech for the 40th anniversary of the Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains.
The book's companion Web site contains information about Grizzle's book and information about Kuralt not contained in the book, and can be found at www.rememberingcharleskuralt.com.
Grizzle said the ease and thoroughness with which Kuralt reported was reflected in the pages of his book.
"In one way this book sort of provides a link to the past and a sense of continuity," Grizzle said. "It's just a pleasant remembrance. It's a sweet book. He was a sweet person."
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