Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mastering the Public Spotlight by Arnold Zenker

It's a quiet Saturday today.  I'm weeding the 800s here at the Reference Desk while the Holiday Parade is going on outside.  Not many patrons in here since they're all out lining the parade route.

I've run across an old book, published in 1983.  Just looking at it, I can tell its a weeder.  It's falling apart and hasn't circulated in ages.  But, I always try and do a little research on items before I make a decision.  And while this book will probably go to the Friends of the Library for the book sale, the author himself has an interesting story.

Arnold Zenker was a middle manager in network programming at CBS back in the '60s.  The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists went on strike and so Walter Cronkite--and all of his news anchor substitutes--walked out.  The CBS bigwigs had no one waiting in the wings, so they looked around their offices and saw this nice-looking 28-year-old kid who'd never appeared on television in his life.  He read the news for thirteen days until the dispute was resolved. 

Things were awkward around the office after that and finally a colleague told him, "Arnold, you've got a great future behind you."  So, he took that as the end of his fifteen minutes of fame and left the profession after a few brief stints as a local newscaster in Boston and Baltimore.

The New York Times wrote a great piece about him in 2006.  I especially appreciate Walter Cronkite's comment upon returning to the evening news: “Good evening. This is Walter Cronkite, sitting in for Arnold Zenker.”

And that's the way it is. . .

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