NEW YORK (AP) — Consider this a tribute to a weekend TV institution:
“This ‘Sunday Morn’ left us forlorn.
Charlie Osgood’s retiring as host.
For 22 years, he’s had no peers.
Viewers love him from coast to coast.”
As a poem, this doesn’t hold a candle to the light verse Osgood has penned for his audience (He is regarded as the poet laureate of CBS News). But perhaps it sums up the way many members of his “CBS News Sunday Morning” flock received his announcement that he will bid them farewell next month.
Osgood announced his scheduled exit on Sunday’s broadcast. The Sept. 25 edition will be a tribute to his legacy on and off “Sunday Morning.” But after that, he won’t be absent from the program, he assured viewers, explaining he will be on hand for occasional appearances.
“For years now, people — even friends and family — have been asking me why I continue doing this, considering my age,” the 83-year-old Osgood said in his brief concluding remarks. “It’s just that it’s been such a joy doing it! … It’s been a great run, but after nearly 50 years at CBS … the time has come.”
And then he sang a few wistful bars from a favorite folk song: “So long, it’s been good to know you. I’ve got to be driftin’ along.”
No successor has been named. Among those under consideration are reportedly “Sunday Morning” colleagues Jane Pauley, Anthony Mason and Lee Cowan.
Meanwhile, the program continues to be a ratings leader. With a year-to-date audience of nearly 6 million viewers, it consistently tops rival Sunday morning news shows.
Osgood “has one of the most distinctive voices in broadcasting, guiding each broadcast, making sure the words were just right, and being a calming, reassuring presence to our viewers,” said CBS News president David Rhodes.
He is exiting a job only one other person has held since “Sunday Morning” premiered in 1979. Charles Kuralt retired in 1994 after molding the job in his own folksy, easygoing image and hosting for 15 years.
Osgood seemingly had an impossible act to follow. But with his folksy erudition and his slightly bookish, bow-tied style, he immediately clicked with viewers who continued to embrace the program as an unhurried TV magazine that, as before, seemed defined only by its host’s, and staff’s, curiosity.
Even then, Osgood was already a CBS veteran.
In 1967, he took a job as reporter on the CBS-owned New York news radio station. Then, one fateful weekend, he was summoned to fill in at the anchor desk for the TV network’s Saturday newscast.
In 1971, he joined the CBS network.
Since then, he has proved to be a broadcaster who can write essays and light verse as well as report hard news, a man who has continued to work in both radio and television with equal facility. (He once described himself as “a radio guy who finally stopped being terrified of the camera.”)
He has been an anchor and reporter for many CBS News broadcasts on both TV and radio. And he has long delivered “The Osgood File” on radio, and will continue to do so, where, if the mood strikes, he might offer up a poem or sing another song.
The 90-minute special edition of “Sunday Morning” honoring Osgood will feature a look at the legendary broadcaster’s career, and include surprise guests, interviews, comments from well-wishers and special performances.
Osgood has been the anchor of “Sunday Morning” since 1994, and with CBS News for 45 years. With Osgood as anchor, CBS’ “Sunday Morning” has reached its highest audience levels in nearly three decades, and three times the broadcast has earned the Daytime Emmy as Outstanding Morning Program.
An experienced journalist known as a gifted writer, Osgood has earned many top broadcasting awards, including the Walter Cronkite Excellence in Journalism Award from Arizona State University, the George Foster Peabody Award, and the National Association of Broadcasters Distinguished Service Award.
He joined CBS News in 1971 and has been an anchor and reporter for every broadcast on the network, including the “CBS Morning News,” “CBS Evening News with Dan Rather” and “CBS Sunday Night News.”
Before joining CBS News, Osgood was an anchor and reporter for WCBS News Radio 880 in New York City. Before CBS he worked for ABC News, served as the general manager of WHCT-TV in Hartford, Conn, and was the program director and manager for WGMS Radio in Washington, D.C.
Osgood made his big screen debut as the narrator of Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who,” the animated feature film adaptation of the beloved children’s book. He also wrote “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House” (Hyperion, 2008); “Nothing Could Be Finer Than a Crisis That Is Minor in the Morning” (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1979); “There’s Nothing I Wouldn’t Do if You Would Be My POSSLQ” (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1981); “Osgood on Speaking: How to Think on Your Feet Without Falling on Your Face” (William Morrow and Company, 1988); “The Osgood Files” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1991); “See You on the Radio” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1999); and “Defending Baltimore Against Enemy Attack” (Hyperion, 2004). Osgood also edited “Funny Letters From Famous People” (Broadway Books, 2003) and “Kilroy Was Here” (Hyperion, 2001).
Osgood was born in New York. He was graduated from Fordham University in 1954 with a B.S. degree in economics. Osgood has performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and played the piano and banjo with the New York Pops and Boston Pops Orchestras.