And, in such a relatively short period of time, the news landscape has changed on both the broadcast and the cable fronts, including the fact that on Monday, when Diane Sawyer takes over ABC's World News, he'll be the only male evening news anchor left.
Williams (or as he's been called lately, BriWi) was nice enough to answer some questions via e-mail about his new competition and how he lets his famous sense of humor come through during a serious newscast. Finally, he gives me some insight into what he's listening to right now (if you've seen previous interviews with him, he leans more towards the college radio side).
ABC World News' lead anchor Charlie Gibson has announced his retirement. He will leave the show on Dec. 18 and Diane Sawyer will take over the anchor's chair on Dec. 21.
He has only been the station's lead news anchor since May of 2006 when he stepped in for Bob Woodruff who sustained injuries from a roadside bomb in Iraq. Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas replaced World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings who left due to medical reasons.
I didn't know Tim Russert on a personal level. I rarely even saw him in his own element as host of NBC's Meet the Press. However, when he suddenly died last Friday, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the fact that he was a huge presence on television, particularly during this year's Presidential election. It made Russert feel like he was a part of the family.
So it has been with many television personalities that have left this earth before their time. It's the intimacy of the industry and the fact that this person has come into our homes night after night, week after week, that the unexpected death of these personalities hits us much harder than, say, movie stars. Unfortunately, there have been a number of these surprising deaths over the last few decades. Here are 12 such deaths that affected millions of television viewers.
- Peter Jennings helped a lot of people to quit smoking.
- Aaron over at TV Barn calls John From Cincinnati "truly baffling."
- There's something truly wrong with Ann Coulter.
- Kevin Eubanks is one sexy vegetarian.
- Katee Sackhoff hates the original Battlestar Galactica.
- Watching Wimbledon this week? Check out ESPN.com's blog.
- TV Guide.com lists the Top 30 Cult Shows of All-Time. Can Star Trek and Lost be considered "cult" shows?
To mark the anniversary of Jennings' death, World News will pay tribute to Jennings tonight by reporting on lung cancer prevention and programs that help people stop smoking. The coverage is part of the network's "Quit to Live" series, which was initiated two months after the anchor's passing.
Vargas and Woodruff take over the #2-rated newscast in the nation, with Brian Williams and NBC still on top. CBS has yet to decide what it will do with its open anchor position and there are still whispers that Katie Couric is in contention.
(Part 3 of 5)
Everyone said that the news anchor was dead. That they were going to be replaced by pundits, scrolling, bite-sized news, and blogs. So it's pretty amazing how much news news anchors made in 2005.
Anderson Cooper made waves this year (no pun intended). Not only did he get the spot that Aaron Brown used to have, he showed he had some serious newsman chops by confronting Senator Mary Landrieu about the lack of local and federal response to Hurricane Katrina. Cooper has been a good, serious reporter for years, but this year he really hit the big time and became the most talked about anchor on TV.
Dan Rather left under a fog of controversy (the Bush memos), but replacement Bob Schieffer has been a solid, calming prescence. If there is one single argument why the big network, dinnertime newscast should stay around, it's his show. CBS is reportedly testing various anchors and various formats for their news show. Let's hope Schieffer sticks around in some big way.
Brian Williams took over for Tom Brokaw, and I think he surprised some people with his steady, professional work (though I'm not quite sure why everyone is so surprised - he's been doing the job for years).
Keith Olbermann's Countdown continues to be one of the bright spots on MSNBC's schedule. He's a talented, smart guy, and his takedowns of people like Bill O'Reilly, John Gibson, and others were some of the great moments in 2005 news.
Of course, we lost one of the big three network anchors when Peter Jennings died of lung cancer. His death (along with Brokaw and Rather leaving) was said to have signaled the end of the network newscast. But with Brian Williams still getting good ratings, ABC's World News Tonight getting revamped, and Bob Schieffer getting many kudos for his solid work over at CBS, I don't think that 2006 will see the end of the network anchor either.