Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hey - The News Is On Now

I had to hear it for myself. The new “voice” of CBS news is an actor; a famous one, but an actor nevertheless. Not even a voice actor. A movie actor. Morgan Freeman. And he’s hopelessly miscast in the new role, replacing Walter Cronkite as the man who tells us CBS News with Katie Couric is now on the air.

I normally don’t watch Katie, because I don’t like her one bit in her current role as news actress. But I had to hear Freeman, and quite frankly he sucks at the job. I love his movies, but whoever produced the session for the CBS News “logo” should be fired, along with Freeman. One of the finest actors of our time and he comes off like a doofus in the new role.

It started years ago, when CNN hired “The Voice Of Darth Vader”, James Earl Jones, to say in his deepest voice “THIS IS CNN”. When Katie Couric took over for Dumb Dan Rather (remember, the best CBS news anchor, Bob Scheiffer, only did it on an “interim” basis), to try and add credibility to the perky/bubbly/happy-talk style of Ms. Couric, they dragged Walter Cronkite (a/k/a “The Anchorman”) back into the studio and made him record the introduction to Couric’s news show.

At the time that happened, I was doing the WTDY morning show with the estimable Shawn Prebil (click on the link and see how the company I was with for 30 years never learned to spell my name properly), who has since decamped for Minneapolis/St. Paul’s KSTP-AM), and will never forget the morning he asked me (thank God, not on the air, but bullpen before the show) “who’s that new voice on CBS News? It’s some old guy.” I had to explain to Shawn that it was the voice of Walter Cronkite. (How would he know? Uncle Walter retired long before Shawn got to high school.)

Not too long after Uncle Walter began his stint as the “announcer” for the CBS Evening News, a real pro…Howard Reig….retired at NBC after decades of being THE voice of NBC News. So who did they get to replace this broadcast icon? An ACTOR - Michael Douglas.

Listen to the introduction to the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams tonight. You’ll hear incredibly sloppy voice work, where Douglas swallows the words “New York”. You’ll hear him say “nooz”. The word “news” is a diphthong. Properly pronounced, it rhymes with what a cat does: mews.

Freeman sucks in his announcer role; Douglas sucks in his announcer role; and you hardly ever hear James Earl Jones’ dulcet tones on CNN any more.

The last guy who introduced my newscasts on WTDY is a guy named Chris Corley, a professional voice artist who sits in front of a mike at his home in Florida and churns out pages and pages of copy every day, for which he is more than richly rewarded. More power to him.

The best announcer I ever hired to do a “news intro” for me: Don Pardo. Yes, the erstwhile voice of Saturday Night Live. He recorded several “intros” for me when I worked in the Fox Valley and wouldn’t take a cent. He thought it was a hoot.

Guy I wish I had? Don LaFontaine. Voice of God. Voice of a million movie trailers. Guy I used to run into every so often in my southern California days. But, he’s gone on to his eternal reward. If they have CBS Nightly News in heaven, Don was disappointed last night around 5:30.


  1. Do you remember John Facenda? He was the voice of NFL Films from the Lomabardi Era until his death back in '84; also a long time broadcaster in Philadelphia. He, too, was said to have The Voice of God.

  2. I sure do remember John Facenda. One of the greatest voices ever.