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Thomas John "Tom" Brokaw (born February 6, 1940) is an American television journalist and author best known as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004. He wrote The Greatest Generation (1998), a runaway bestseller, and other books and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. He is the only person to host all three major NBC News programs: The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and, briefly, Meet the Press.

Early life

Brokaw was born in Webster, South Dakotamarker, the son of Eugenia "Jean" (née Conley), who worked in sales and as a post office clerk, and Anthony Orville "Red" Brokaw. He was the eldest of their three sons and was named after his maternal great-grandfather, Thomas Conley. His father was a descendant of Huguenot immigrants Bourgon and Cathernine (le Fevre) Broucard and his mother was Irish American. His paternal great-grandfather, Richard P. Brokaw, founded the town of Bristol, South Dakotamarker, and the Brokaw House, a small hotel and the first structure in Bristol.

Brokaw's father was a construction foreman for the Army Corps of Engineers. He worked at the Black Hills Ordnance Depotmarker (BHOD) and helped construct Fort Randall Dam; his job often required the family to resettle during Brokaw's early childhood. The Brokaws lived for short periods in Bristol, Igloo (the small residential community of the BHOD), and Pickstownmarker, before settling in Yanktonmarker, where Brokaw attended high school.

As a high school student attending Yankton Senior High School, Brokaw was governor of South Dakota American Legion Boys State, and in that capacity he accompanied then South Dakota Governor Joe Foss to New York City for a joint appearance on a TV game show. It was to be the beginning of a long relationship with Foss, whom Brokaw would later feature in his book about World War II veterans, The Greatest Generation.

Tom Brokaw dropped out of The University of Iowamarker, where he says he majored in "beer and co-eds" before receiving his B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of South Dakota in Vermillionmarker in 1964.

He is married to Meredith Lynn Auld (a former Miss South Dakota and author) from 1962. They have three daughters, Jennifer Jean, Andrea Brooks and Sara Auld.

Broadcasting career

Early years

Brokaw's television career began at KTIVmarker in Sioux City, Iowamarker, followed by stints at KMTVmarker in Omaha, Nebraskamarker and WSB-TVmarker in Atlanta, Georgiamarker. In 1966, he joined NBC News, reporting from Californiamarker and anchoring the 11 p.m. news for KNBC-TVmarker in Los Angelesmarker. In 1973, NBC made Brokaw White Housemarker correspondent, covering the Watergate scandal, and anchor of the Saturday editions of Nightly News. He became host of NBC's Today Show in 1976 and remained in the job until 1982.

Nightly News



On April 5, 1982, Brokaw began co-anchoring NBC Nightly News from New York with Roger Mudd in Washington. After a year, NBC News president Reuven Frank concluded that the dual-anchor program was not working and selected Brokaw to be sole anchor. The NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw commenced on September 5, 1983.

As anchor, Brokaw conducted the first one-on-one American television interviews with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was the only network anchor in Berlinmarker when the Berlin Wallmarker fell. He and Katie Couric hosted a prime-time newsmagazine, Now, that aired from 1993–94 before being folded into the multi-night Dateline NBC program.

On September 11, 2001, Brokaw joined Katie Couric and Matt Lauer around 9:30 a.m., following the live attack on the South Tower of the World Trade Centermarker, and continued to anchor all day, until after midnight. Following collapse of the second tower, Brokaw observed, "This is war. This is a declaration and an execution of an attack on the United States." He continued to anchor coverage to midnight on the following two days. Later that month, a letter containing anthrax was addressed to him as part of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Brokaw was not harmed, but two NBC News employees were infected.

In 2002, NBC announced that Brokaw would retire as anchor of the NBC Nightly News following the 2004 Presidential election, to be succeeded by Brian Williams. Brokaw would remain with NBC News in a part-time capacity through 2014, serving as an analyst and anchoring and producing documentary programs.

Brokaw closed his final Nightly News broadcast in front of 15.7 million viewers on NBC on December 1, 2004, by saying:

By the end of his time as Nightly News anchor, Brokaw was regarded as the most popular news personality in the United States. Nightly News had moved into first place in the Nielsen ratings in late 1996 and held onto the spot for the remainder of Brokaw's tenure on the program, placing him ahead of ABC's Peter Jennings and World News Tonight and CBS's Dan Rather and the CBS Evening News

Along with Jennings and Rather, Brokaw helped usher in the era of the TV news anchor as lavishly compensated, globe-trotting star in the 1980s. The magnitude of a news event could be measured by whether Brokaw and his counterparts on the other two networks showed up on the scene. Brokaw's retirement in December 2004, followed by Rather's ouster from the CBS Evening News in March 2005 and Jennings's death in August 2005, brought that era to a close.

After Nightly News

After leaving the anchor chair, Brokaw remained at NBC as Special Correspondent, providing periodic reports for Nightly News. He served as an NBC analyst during the 2008 presidential election campaign and moderated the second presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. He reported documentaries for the Discovery Channel and the History Channel and in 2006 delivered one of the eulogies during the state funeral of former President Gerald R. Ford.

On June 13, 2008, Brokaw broke into NBC programming to announce the death of NBC News Washington Bureau Chief and Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert. A week later, NBC announced that Brokaw would serve as host of Meet the Press on an interim basis. He was succeeded by David Gregory in December 2008.

Brokaw serves on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the International Rescue Committee. He is also a member of the Howard Universitymarker School of Communications Board of Visitors and a trustee of the University of South Dakota, the Norton Simon Museummarker, the American Museum of Natural Historymarker, and the International Rescue Committee.

Career timeline



Books

Brokaw signing a book in Seattle in 2007
  • 1998 The Greatest Generation ISBN 0-375-50202-5 (hardback) ISBN 0-385-33462-1 (paperback) Depicts the Americans who came of age during the Great Depression and fought World War II.
  • 1999 The Greatest Generation Speaks ISBN 0-375-50394-3 (hardback) ISBN 0-385-33538-5 (paperback)
  • 2001 An Album of Memories ISBN 0-375-50581-4 (hardback) ISBN 0-375-76041-5 (paperback)
  • 2002 A Long Way from Home: Growing Up in the American Heartland ISBN 0-375-50763-9 (hardback) ISBN 0-375-75935-2 (paperback)
  • 2006 Galen Rowell: A Retrospective ISBN 1-57805-115-0 (hardback) Foreword by Tom Brokaw
  • 2007 Boom!: Voices of the Sixties Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today ISBN 1-40006-457-0 (hardback)


Awards

Public and industry awards

  • Peabody Award for a report called To Be An American
  • Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for excellence in broadcast journalism for Dateline NBC documentary special, Why Can't We Live Together on hidden realities of racial separation in suburban America
  • Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for excellence in broadcast journalism for his interview with Mikhail Gorbachev
  • seven Emmy Awards including one for China in Crisis special report
  • 1990 National Headliner Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews for advancing the understanding of religion, race and ethnicity.
  • 1993 Emmy award for reporting on floods in the Midwest
  • 1995 Dennis Kauff Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism from Boston Universitymarker
  • 1995 Lowell Thomas Award from Marist College.
  • 1997 University of Missourimarker School of Journalism Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism
  • 1997 inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame
  • 1998 Fred Friendly First Amendment Award, a tribute to those "individuals whose broadcast career reflects a consistent devotion to freedom of speech and the principles embodied in the First Amendment."
  • 1998 American Legion award for distinguished public service in the field of communication.
  • 1998 Citizens' Scholarship Foundation of America's President's Award recognizing "devotion to helping young people through scholarships."
  • 1999 Congressional Medal of Honor Society's "Tex" McCrary Excellence in Journalism Award
  • 1999 Emmy award for international coverage of the Kosovomarker conflict
  • 2005 Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2005 Four Freedoms Medal: Freedom of Speech And Expression
  • 2006 Washington State Universitymarker Edward R. Murrow School of Communications Lifetime Achievement in Broadcasting Award
  • 2006 Sylvanus Thayer Award: United States Military Academy at West Point
  • 2006 Walter Cronkite Award for Journalism Excellence at Arizona State University
  • 2007 Horatio Alger Award for overcoming adversity to achieve success through the American free enterprise system from the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Inc.


Honorary degrees



References

  1. Tom Brokaw Biography (1940-)
  2. McGuire, John M. (November 6, 2002). "From Yankton to Yankee Town". St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. E1.
  3. Brokaw, Tom. (2003). A Long Way from Home: Growing Up in the American Heartland in the Forties and Fifties, p. 9. New York: Random House.
  4. Jordan, Larry (February 1995). " Tom Brokaw: A Heavyweight in a World of Lightweights". Midwest Today.
  5. Frank, Reuven. Out of Thin Air: The Brief Wonderful Life of Network News (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991), pp. 383-84.
  6. 9/11/01 NBC World Trade Center Part 12, YouTube (accessed 2009-11-22)
  7. One Hundred Sixty Fourth Annual Commencement


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