On Feb. 1, CBS News Sunday Morning celebrates 30 years on the air, a significant milestone in an era when technology has blasted news consumers into ever smaller slivers.
But Sunday Morning, which had its first broadcast on January 28, 1979, has remained a constant.
Anchored by Charles Osgood, who favor bowties and matching pocket squares, the show has continued to offer a respite from the grind of the 24-hour news cycle. At a time when so much of the news is dire - soaring unemployment, decimated 401(K) values - Sunday Morning's style of comfort food may be the perfect antidote.
"I think it's sort of unhealthy to, when you turn on the television set, instead of watching something that's going to please you," says Osgood, "you turn something on that's going to shock you and make you want to go get a stiff drink."
With its signature nature montages accompanied by natural sound (birds chirping, brooks gurgling), Sunday Morning could be the TV equivalent of Xanax for beleaguered viewers.
"I think they need it now more than ever," says Osgood.
That's not to say the show doesn't serve up its share of castor oil. There have been plenty of stories on the economy. But you're unlikely to find a story about Virginia glass artists or the sophisticated match-making system (for pets and perspective masters) at London's famed Battersea Dogs and Cats Home on the evening news.
Sunday Morning averages just over 5 million viewers a week, making it Sunday's No. 1 morning news program. And it has garnered its share of awards: 25 Emmys, 4 Peabodys, and 5 RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Awards.
Osgood has been at CBS News for 41 years and has been anchoring Sunday Morning since 1994. He succeeded the late, legendary Charles Kuralt, who in 15 years on the show became synonymous with Sunday Morning.
"He would still be doing it if he was around," says Osgood, "There's no doubt about that."
Come April, Osgood will have put in as much time on the program as Kuralt.
Sunday's anniversary installment will look at how much the world and the culture has changed in 30 years. And certainly Sunday Morning has not been completely untouched by the passage of time. There are shorter pieces, for instance. But the show will never ascribe to many of the current conventions of TV news, such as cluttering the screen with crawls and data. Chyrons (on-screen name plates) are also to be avoided, says Osgood.
"We tell you who someone is in the script," he says.
"And I try to write in sentences, you know? I find it much easier to read. You can't see it, but I usually put capitol letters at the beginning of sentences and periods at the end. And somewhere in there is a verb."
Osgood also speaks softly, preferring to let his words, not the volume of his voice, carry the message.
"I promise not to yell," he says. "It's amazing, if you go up and down the television dial a lot of people are yelling at you."
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