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ARRL Special Bulletin ARLX010 (2009)


QST de W1AW  
Special Bulletin 10  ARLX010
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  July 20, 2009
To all radio amateurs 


Legendary CBS newsman Walter Cronkite, KB2GSD, who held the title of
''Most Trusted Man in America,'' passed away Friday, July 17 after a
long illness. He was 92. The avuncular Cronkite anchored the CBS
Evening News for 19 years until 1981 when he retired. During that
time, he reported on such subjects as the Kennedy assassinations,
the Civil Rights movement, the Apollo XI lunar landing, Vietnam and
the Vietnam-era protests, the Arab-Israeli Six Day War, Watergate
and the Begin-Sadat peace accords.

Cronkite, an ARRL member, narrated the 6 minute video ''Amateur Radio
Today'' ( Produced by the ARRL in 2003,
the video tells Amateur Radio's public service story to non-hams,
focusing on ham radio's part in helping various agencies respond to
wildfires in the Western US during 2002, ham radio in space and the
role Amateur Radio plays in emergency communications. ''Dozens of
radio amateurs helped the police and fire departments and other
emergency services maintain communications in New York, Pennsylvania
and Washington, DC,'' narrator Cronkite intoned in reference to ham
radio's response on September 11, 2001. ''Their country asked, and
they responded without reservation.''

Walter Leland Cronkite was born in St Joseph, Missouri on November
4, 1916, the only child of a dentist father and homemaker mother.
When he was still young, his family moved to Texas. ''One day, he
read an article in ''Boys Life'' about the adventures of reporters
working around the world -- and young Cronkite was hooked,'' said
his obituary on the CBS Web site. ''He began working on his high
school newspaper and yearbook and in 1933, he entered the University
of Texas at Austin to study political science, economics and
journalism. He never graduated. He took a part time job at the
Houston Post and left college to do what he loved: report.''

In 1963, it was Cronkite who broke into the soap opera ''As the World
Turns'' to announce that the president had been shot -- and later to
declare that he had been killed.'' CBS called it a ''defining moment
for Cronkite, and for the country. His presence -- in shirtsleeves,
slowly removing his glasses to check the time and blink back tears
-- captured both the sense of shock, and the struggle for composure,
that would consume America and the world over the next four days.''

One of Cronkite's enthusiasms was the space race. In 1969, when
America sent a man to the moon, he couldn't contain himself. ''Go
baby, go.'' he said as Apollo XI took off. He ended up performing
what critics described as ''Walter to Walter'' coverage of the mission
-- staying on the air for 27 of the 30 hours that astronauts Buzz
Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were on the moon. In 2006, NASA honored
Cronkite by giving him their Ambassador of Exploration Award. ''His
marathon, live coverage of the first moon landing brought the
excitement and impact of the historic event into the homes of
millions of Americans and observers around the world,'' NASA said in
a news release announcing the award. Cronkite was the first
non-astronaut and only NASA outsider to receive the award.

Steve Mendelsohn, W2ML, was Cronkite's radio engineer at CBS for
many years. ''I had many chances to discuss my favorite hobby, ham
radio, with 'the world's most trusted anchor man,''' he told the
ARRL. ''Gradually, his interest increased, but on finding that he had
to pass a Morse code test, he balked, saying it was too hard for
him; however, he told me he had purchased a receiver and listened to
the Novice bands every night for a few minutes. At the CBS Radio
Network, Walter would arrive 10 minutes before we went on the air to
read his script aloud, make corrections for his style of grammar and
just 'get in the mood' to do the show. In those days Rich Moseson,
W2VU, was the producer of a show called ''In the News,'' a 3 minute
television show for children voiced by CBS Correspondent Christopher
Glenn. On this day, Rich was at the Broadcast Center to record
Chris' voice for his show and had dropped by my control room to
discuss some upcoming ARRL issues.'' At the time, Mendelsohn was the
ARRL Hudson Division Director.

''When Walter walked into the studio, I started to set the show up at
the behest of our director, Dick Muller, WA2DOS,'' Mendelsohn
recalled. ''In setting up the tape recorders, I had to send tone to
them and make sure they were all at proper level. Having some time,
I grabbed ''The New York Times'' and started sending code with the
tone key on the audio console. For 10 minutes I sent code and
noticed Walter had turned his script over and was copying it. We
went to air, as we did every day, at 4:50 PM and after we were off,
Walter brought his script into the control room. Neatly printed on
the back was the text I had sent with the tone key. Rich and I
looked at the copy, he nodded, and I told Walter that he had just
passed the code test. He laughed and asked when the formal test was,
but I reminded him that it took two general class licensees to
validate the test and he had just passed the code. Several weeks
later he passed the written test and the FCC issued him KB2GSD.''

Mendelsohn helped Cronkite make his first Amateur Radio contact:
''Having passed the licensing test, Walter was now ready to get on
the air. His first QSO was on 10 meters about 28.390 MHz. He was
nervous and I called him on the phone to talk him through his first
experience. As we talked on the air, a ham from the Midwest come on
and called me. Acknowledging him, I asked the usual questions about
where he was from, wanting to give Walter a bit of flavor of what
the hobby was about. I turned it over to Walter, and following his
introduction, the gentleman in the Midwest said, 'That's the worst
Walter Cronkite imitation I've ever heard.' I suggested that maybe
it was Walter and the man replied, 'Walter Cronkite is not even a
ham, and if he was, he certainly wouldn't be here on 10 meters.'
Walter and I laughed for weeks at that one.''

In 2007, ARRL Hudson Division Director Frank Fallon, N2FF, presented
Cronkite with the ARRL President's Award. This award, created in
2003 by the ARRL Board of Directors, recognizes an ARRL member or
members who ''have shown long-term dedication to the goals and
objectives of ARRL and Amateur Radio'' and who have gone the extra
mile to support individual League programs and goals. Cronkite was
selected to receive the award in April 2005 in recognition of his
outstanding support of the ARRL and Amateur Radio by narrating the
videos ''Amateur Radio Today'' and ''The ARRL Goes to Washington''
( ''It was quite a thrill to
make this presentation to Cronkite,'' Fallon said. ''He has long been
recognized as the 'most trusted man in America,' so lining our
causes to his face, name and voice has been a great help.''

Cronkite is the recipient of a Peabody Award, the William White
Award for Journalistic Merit, an Emmy Award from the Academy of
Television Arts and Sciences, the George Polk Journalism Award and a
Gold Medal from the International Radio and Television Society. In
1981, during his final three months on the CBS Evening News,
Cronkite received 11 major awards, including the Presidential Medal
of Freedom. In 1985, he became the second newsman, after Edward R.
Murrow, to be selected for the Television Hall of Fame.

A private memorial service was scheduled for July 23 in New York
City. Cronkite will be cremated and his remains buried in Missouri
next to his wife Betsy, who passed away in 2005. A public memorial
service will be held within the next month at Avery Fisher Hall at
the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. In lieu of flowers, the
family is requesting donations to the Walter and Betsy Cronkite
Foundation through the Austin Community Foundation
(, which will distribute
contributions to various charities the couple supported.

As Cronkite said on March 6, 1981, concluding his final broadcast as
anchorman: ''Old anchormen, you see, don't fade away, they just keep
coming back for more. And that's the way it is.''


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