. . . a riveting account not only of the assassination but of TV's transformation into America's most dominant news source.
-William Endicott, The Sacramento Bee
Here, finally, is the view from the street about November 22, 1963. This reporters' account of the Kennedy assassination brings to full focus the personal anguish as well as the professional pressure endured that day by those who could not take the time to cry. This book will become part of the real and permanent history of a dark day for America.
-Jim Lehrer, The NewsHour
The first accounts of how the Kennedy assassination happened came from the local radio and TV reporters of Dallas. For the first time, some of the best of those reporters tell the gritty tale of how they did it. The story they tell is riveting, insightful and filled with new detail about that awful weekend that changed America.
-Bob Schieffer, CBS News
People often ask me "what it was really like" to be in Dallas on the day Kennedy was shot. . . . When the News Went Live provides an eloquent answer to that tough question, as four newsmen who were there, on the ground, tell how it "really was" through their eyes and ears.
-Dan Rather, CBS News
This book has more legs than the Rockettes. The slim page-turner possesses a crisp, objective quality that, like a good movie, never stops moving.
-Kent Biffle, The Dallas Morning News
This work brings immediacy and intensity to events that shook the nation. You are there with the four, on the streets, at the hospital, along the flower-strewn Grassy Knoll the day after, in the jail as Oswald is paraded for the press and then for murder live on TV. Interwoven with this is the perspective of forty years from men grown old, who still live with November 1963.
-Sterlin Holmesly, The San Antonio Express-News
The integrity and dedication of these four veteran journalists is impressive, as is their ability to make a 40-year-old event come alive again.
. . . a fast-paced recounting of what they witnessed. . . . It concludes with two thought-provoking chapters about the business of news and its uncertain future. Recommended for academic and public libraries devoting space to journalism.
Their account of reporting the events surrounding Kennedy's death goes beyond mere retelling, reflecting on issues such as ethics and duty in the presentation of news.
-Liberty Journal, RTNDA Communicator
When the News Went Live is more than just a compelling read. It is an account of incredible from-the-streets reporting of history. . . . Each author has a chance to share individual memories, and readers will appreciate the opportunity to read transcripts of live reports, such as Huffaker confirming the assassination by saying, "This is one of the quietest crowds that will ever assemble—the crowd with pity, sorrow, horror and shame in its heart." No less moving is Huffaker explaining to us 42 years later, "I hated having to speak when I felt like weeping."
-William Kerns, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
A first-class account of a tragic historic moment that still has an impact on our nation.
-Ken Judkins, The Lewisville Leader
When the News Went Live: Dallas 1963, a thoughtful and fast-moving book by four Dallas broadcast reporters, is earning respect of journalists who praise its depth, authority, and readability. Their vivid first-person account is the clearest view yet of the JFK assassination and its aftermath. From interwoven viewpoints at the center of that tragedy, they show what really happened, how they covered the stunning events for the nation, and how broadcast news has developed since, both technically and ethically. Bob Huffaker, Bill Mercer, George Phenix, and Wes Wise reported for the Dallas CBS affiliate KRLD Radio-TV News, one of America’s top news operations. They worked with Dan Rather, Walter Cronkite, and CBS to bring Texas news to the nation. When broadcasting JFK’s Dallas visit suddenly evolved into reporting a worldwide tragedy, they kept as calm as possible, to encourage the world to remain sane.
They earned the nation’s highest honor for their on-the-scene reporting, presented by the Radio Television News Directors Association, which wrote, “KRLD deserves the highest praise for the manner in which its personnel moved without a moment of hesitation from what was to have been normal coverage of the arrival, presentation and departure of the President, into fascinating, elaborate, complete and deeply detailed coverage at the local level of what has to be easily the story of our modern lives.”
Bob Huffaker broadcast television’s first murder when Jack Ruby shot Lee Oswald. He broadcast the motorcade and Parkland Hospital scenes, interviewed the assassin’s mother, covered Ruby’s trial and finally his death, having done an award-winning courtroom interview with Ruby. He earned the Ph.D. and was an English professor until 1980, when, as investigator for the Texas Legislature, he exposed his university for falsifying class records. Texas State University honors Huffaker in its Star Hall of Fame for defending press freedom when he headed its student publications committee in the 1970s. Huffaker was an editor for Texas Monthly, Studies in the Novel, Studies in American Humor, and Modern Humanities Research Association. His book John Fowles is seminal work about the novelist, and he has written for Southern Humanities Review, Dallas Observer, True West, Senior Advocate, and Texas Parks & Wildlife.
Bill Mercer kept vigil at Dallas Police headquarters and confronted Oswald in a midnight press showing, where he informed the assassin that police had charged him with the president’s murder. Among flowers at the assassination site, Mercer reported words of sympathy on wreaths—and on the minds of those who gathered in grief at JFK’s murder. Voice of the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, University of North Texas, and the Cotton Bowl, Mercer is in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, Texas All-Pro’s Hall of Fame, and UNT Athletic Hall of Fame. He gained fame announcing wrestling and wrote history of the Navy LCI: World War II combat landing craft on which he served in the Pacific.
George Phenix has made his mark in press and politics. For two decades he has published Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter he founded. After the assassination, Phenix left KRLD to lobby for the Texas Municipal League, and he wrote speeches and television shows for officials including Governor Preston Smith and Congressman J.J. Pickle. After four years as Pickle’s Washington aide, he returned to Texas as Executive Assistant to US Senator Lloyd Bentsen, published several weekly newspapers, and remains an authority on politics and journalism.
Wes Wise, president of the Dallas Press Club, escorted Adlai Stevenson the month before the assassination and filmed attacks on the UN Ambassador. Wise helped prepare JFK’s security for the Dallas visit, broadcast the motorcade and Trade Mart scenes, encountered Jack Ruby the day before he shot Oswald, waited at the county jail for the aborted Oswald transfer, and testified in Ruby’s trial. Honored in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, he was a famous baseball announcer for Liberty Broadcasting System in the 1940s and 1950s. He wrote for Sports Illustrated, Time and Life, winning Southern Methodist University’s Southwest Journalism Forum award. He served five years as mayor of Dallas in the 1970s, was president of the Texas Municipal League and board member of the US Conference of Mayors. Wise helped Dallas overcome its tarnished reputation. As a reporter, he set records straight; as Dallas’ first independent mayor in decades, he helped the city toward racial equity, guided it through desegregation and the uneasy Sixties, fought to memorialize JFK’s life and death, and helped pull Dallas up from international disgrace.