Edward R Murrow Home

Newsman. It evokes a certain image. Often a war correspondent writing his observations from a foxhole or a man in a trench coat and fedora with a cigarette dangling from his lips as he writes at an old-fashioned typewriter. Edward R. Murrow was just such a newsman. He was there at the very beginning of World War Two, he was there for the beginning of the television, he was there for the beginning of huge societal changes. From humble beginnings to the heights of network news, Murrow was the epitome of the American Dream. He rubbed shoulders with presidents and with privates. He saw the horrors of war and words failed him. You can hear Murrow’s show, I Can Hear It Now, and much more on the Murrow Collection . It is a fascinating to look into history and the evolution of network news.

Early Life Through College

Born April 25, 1908 to Roscoe and Ethel Murrow in Polecat Creek, North Carolina,  Egbert Roscoe Murrow was the fourth son (the Murrow’s first son died) in his Quaker family. His older brothers were Lacey and Dewey. The family lived in a small log cabin with no running water or electricity. Roscoe Murrow worked very hard as a farmer bringing in only a few hundred dollars a year. Even though he was relatively successful, Roscoe longed for a different life. To that end, he moved his family across the country to a small town 30 miles south of the Canadian border, in Blanchard, Washington on Samish Bay. Roscoe went to work for the railroad eventually becoming a locomotive engineer—which he loved. During this time, Egbert changed his name and started going by Edward or Ed. Blanchard was very small with a very small school but the Murrow boys excelled. While in school Ed was in the school orchestra, glee club, played baseball and basketball as well as president of the student body. As if he d

Early Career

When Murrow and his fellow students graduated from college in 1930, the United States was seven months into the Great Depression. Interestingly, Murrow’s broadcasting career did not begin immediately after college. It may not have even entered his mind since radio was still exploring the boundaries. Instead, he went to work for the NSFA in New York City running the national office. After settling in at NSFA headquarters, Murrow was off to Europe for a meeting of the International Confederation of Students in Brussels, Belgium. The students attending the meeting were divided along country lines and no one could agree on anything. Actually, they did agree on one shun the German students in attendance. Murrow—with the sense of fairness instilled in him by his parents—made an impassioned speech to the assembly, telling them that they should not punish the students for the sins of their fathers. Once again, he brought the house down. The assembly was not so sure about the Germans

World War II

In 1937, CBS sent Murrow and his wife to Europe. CBS wanted to set up a network of reporters to provide first-hand observations of the changes in Europe. There was no network news at the time so there was no pattern to follow. Not only was there no pattern, Murrow had never been in the news business and never written a newspaper story. What he did know is how to organize people and work with people to get what he needed. In addition to setting up the reporting network, he was to schedule talks and set up interviews people with important people. But these interviews were for entertainment. News on the radio was limited to reading the news headlines on the hour by announcers. There was very little research and very little reporting on current events. His first hire was William L. Shirer , an American expatriate who worked all over Europe. Shirer’s hiring was Murrow’s first big test with the CBS brass. Shirer was no announcer, he was a newsman. The bosses back in New York thought hi

World War II Reporter

Murrow was not at all shy about where he had to go to get a story. He was not one of those reporters who only sat at a desk and delivered news written by someone else based on facts gathered by another person. From his signature, “ London” to the final “Good night and good luck”, he brought the action to the audience at home in the United States. One of his first reports from the middle of the action was during the Blitz in London. He provided a blow-by-blow account of the German bombs dropping on London. Reporting from the steps of St. Martins in the Fields on Trafalgar Square, with air raid sirens blaring in the background, he described in great detail the blackout. In other reports you can hear him talk about “bombs skittering”, hear the sound of explosions in the background and ack-ack exploding overhead. He flew 25 mission with both the RAF and the US Army Air Corp even though the honchos at CBS had a fit. This was an interesting take since his London office was b

Post-War Radio

Edward Murrow came home a changed man to a changed America. What now? That is the very same question millions of American, men and women, were asking themselves. Murrow helped transform news reporting just before and during the war and the things he saw and experienced changed him. Just as radio was forced to grow up rapidly, Murrow grew rapidly as a reporter. His broadcasts from Europe made him hugely popular at home in the United States but where was he to go from there?  - Old Radio Cat

I Can Hear It Now

Over the course of his career, Murrow was never content just to sit back and report the news. He was aware that the news is also history. In the late 1940s, he recorded a series of records called I Can Hear It Now . The records were produced by Fred Friendly from a Rhode Island radio station. The records combined speeches and historical events with narration provided by Murrow. The series was so popular that CBS took notice, and since Murrow worked for CBS, they were able to strike a deal and bring the premise to radio. It was a little different for the time. They brought the stories to life by using recorded sounds like guns when presenting a story about war or aircraft when talking about aviation. I Can Hear It Now was presented in a magazine format which means that the show is divided into segments, and each story is presented in a dedicated segment. (You might be familiar with the format from television shows like 60 Minutes .) The  I Can Hear It Now