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 thing...to 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 but they did know they wanted him to be their president but he refused.

Upon returning to New York, Murrow set about fundraising and publicizing. Murrow was a masterful fundraiser during this difficult time and a tireless publicist. He worked with CBS on the radio program University of the Air (LINK ?). He helped book guests for the show. This connection with CBS will work to his advantage later in his career.

In 1932, at 24, Murrow left the NSFA and went to work for the Institute of International Education.  He was appointed assistant secretary to the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars. His job was to identify German academics who were at risk of Nazi persecution and arrange for them to lecture in the United States. Eventually, the program was expanded to include other European countries. In the end, the Institute helped over 300 scholars when the program ended in 1941.

Even though Murrow left the Institute in 1935 to work for CBS, he continued working with the Emergency Committee until 1937. He served on the board of directors until his death in 1965.

When Murrow went to CBS, he was the director of talks and education. Once he got into CBS, he was there for almost his entire career. As director of talks and education, he delivered speeches about how to use radio in education, something he knew about since he worked with NBC University of the Air.

As a new employee at CBS and a speech major, Murrow was fascinated by announcer Bob Trout’s delivery. (CBS did not have a news division at the time.) Trout helped Murrow by providing tips for delivering information on the air. He taught Murrow that it was important to talk to the listeners, not at them; to address those at home like he was having a personal conversation with each person.

While attending the 1937 National Education Association convention in New Orleans, CBS asked him to head off to Europe. His job there was to set up a system of correspondents to cover the brewing problems on the continent. These reporters were the beginning of the the group called Murrow’s Boys. Even though he established the network and coordinated the reporting, he was not yet an on air reporter.