About On the Record
Bill Moyers was one of the chief inheritors of the Edward R. Murrow tradition of "deep-think" journalism. Working alternately on CBS and PBS in the 1970s and early 1980s, and then almost exclusively on PBS. His achievements were principally in the areas of investigative documentary and long-form conversations with some of the world's leading thinkers. Moyers, who had been a print journalist, ordained Baptist minister, press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson, and newspaper publisher before coming to television in 1970, gained public and private foundation support for producing some of television's most incisive investigative documentaries. Each was delivered in the elegantly written and deceptively soft-spoken narrations that came, Moyers later said, out of the story-telling traditions of his East Texas upbringing. Where Edward R. Murrow had taken on Joseph McCarthy on See It Now and the agri-business industry in his famous Harvest of Shame documentary, Moyers examined the failings of constitutional democracy in his 1974 Essay on Watergate and exposed governmental illegalities and cover-up during the Iran Contra scandal. He looked at issues of race, class and gender, at the power media images held for a nation of "consumers," not citizens, and explored virtually every aspect of American political, economic and social life in his documentaries.
Equally influential were Moyers' World of Ideas series. Again, Edward R. Murrow had paved the way in his trans-Atlantic conversations with political leaders, thinkers and artist on his Small World program in the late 1950s, but Moyers used his soft, probing style to talk to a remarkable range of articulate intellectuals on his two foundation supported interview series on PBS. In discussions that ranged from an hour to, in the case of mythology scholar Joseph Campbell, six hours on the air, Moyers brought to television what he called the "conversation of democracy." He spoke with social critics like Noam Chomsky and Cornel West, writers like Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, Mexican poet and novelist Carlos Fuentes and American novelist Toni Morrison, and social analysts like philosopher Mortimer Adler and University of Chicago sociologist William Julius Wilson. Moyers engaged voices and ideas that had been seldom if ever heard on television, and transcribed versions of many of his series often became best selling books as well (Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, 1988; The Secret Government, 1988; A World of Ideas, 1989; A World of Ideas II, 1990, Healing the Mind, 1992). The Joseph Campbell book was on the New York Times best seller list for more than a year and sold 750,000 copies within the first four years of its publication.
Moyers' television work was as prolific as his publishing record. In all he produced over six hundred hours of programming (filmed and videotaped conversations and documentaries) between 1971 and 1989, which comes out to 33 hours of programming a year or the equivalent of more than half an hour of programming a week for eighteen years. Moyers broadcast another one hundred and twenty-five programs between 1989 and 1992 working with a series of producers--27 of them on the first two World of Ideas series alone. He formed his own company, Public Affairs Television, in 1986, and distributed many of his own shows.
By the early 1990s Bill Moyers had established himself as a significant figure of television talk, his power and influence providing him access to corridors of power and policy. In January of 1993 he was invited for a rare overnight visit with President elect Bill Clinton to discuss the nation's problems before the Clinton Inaugural. Bill Moyers had by this time become one of the few broadcast journalists who might be said to approach the stature of Edward R. Murrow. If Murrow had founded broadcast journalism, Moyers had significantly extended its traditions.
(Since publication of this biographical sketch by The Museum of Broadcast Communications, Bill Moyers concluded production of Bill Moyers Journal, developed and hosted NOW with Bill Moyers, and developed Moyers & Company, which debuted nationally in January, 2012. Moyers & Company airs on OETA Saturdays at 5:00 pm and again on OETA OKLA Sundays at 6:00 pm. Moyers & Company is distributed through American Public Television).
Veteran network news correspondent, Mike Boettcher, has been recognized with journalism's top awards for his coverage of events that shaped the world since 1980. He also helped launch the era of 24-hour live news coverage on June 1, 1980, when he performed the first live satellite report for a fledgling network called CNN. In a three-decade network career, Boettcher received national recognition in all facets of broadcast journalism – breaking news, feature, war coverage and investigative reporting. He was also recognized for his investigations of the world's most dangerous terrorist groups. As the chief correspondent for CNN's terrorism investigation unit, a team he created in the summer of 2001, Boettcher was awarded a Peabody, his third of four National Emmys and a National Headliner award.
Jim Lehrer was the first guest on the new OETA program, On the Record. Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1934, Jim Lehrer received an A.A. degree from Victoria College and a B.J. in 1956 from the University of Missouri before joining the Marine Corps. From 1959 to 1966, he was a reporter for The Dallas Morning News and then the Dallas Times-Herald. He was also a political columnist at the Times-Herald for several years and in 1968 became the city editor.
Lehrer's newspaper career led him to public television, first in Dallas, as KERA-TV's executive director of public affairs, on-air host and editor of a nightly news program. He subsequently moved to Washington, DC, to serve as the public affairs coordinator for PBS, and was also a member of PBS's Journalism Advisory Board and a fellow at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Lehrer went on to join the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT) as a correspondent.
Marvin Kalb is a James Clark Welling Presidential Fellow at The George Washington University and Edward R. Murrow Professor Emeritus at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He is also a contributing news analyst for National Public Radio and Fox News Channel. In addition, he is frequently called upon to comment on major issues of the day by many of the nation's other leading news organizations.
Kalb had a distinguished 30-year broadcast career, working for both CBS News and NBC News, where he served as Chief Diplomatic Correspondent, Moscow Bureau Chief, and moderator of Meet the Press. Among his many honors are two Peabody Awards, the DuPont Prize from Columbia University, the 2006 Fourth Estate Award from the National Press Club and more than a half-dozen Overseas Press Club awards. He has lectured at many universities, here and abroad. Kalb was the founding director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
In On the Record, Dick Pryor discusses current events and journalism with leading journalists from around the nation. On the Record provides insight into the role of the media in American society and how journalism impacts public policy and popular culture.