Friday, December 01, 2006


With all the writings and broadcast comments these days, relating to the new film, "BOBBY" - a semi-documentary on the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 ... one radio newsman's memories brought back:

I was working as a writer/producer for ABC Radio (network), in New York, at the time ... and we'd been handling the California primary that evening, June 5th, 1968. Bobby Kennedy had won and had made his joyful victory comments at the Ambassador, and was now on his way out, by way of the hotel kitchen.

We all know what happened next - Sirhan Sirhan shooting Kennedy and five others with a .22 revolver,

Back in New York, two of the three networks (remember, this is long before all the cable outlets) - NBC and CBS - had signed off, so that all their local stations were now disconnected from the their nets. We, at ABC, were still in the process of doing the same, and we were running the long end-credit crawl.

Suddenly, there was loud commotion on our direct line to LA and shouted word from our news reporter on the scene .... "Some shots have been fired .... people have been hit !"

Our producer (I'm not sure, but I think it was Bob Siegenthaler) reacted quickly, to prevent our giving up the net ... and yelled at the engineers to keep running the credit crawl ... slow it down ... re-run it, if necessary !

Now word came through our line to LA, that Senator Kennedy had been one of those shot, and seemed to be in serious condition.

To make a long story short, our producer kept up the net connections for the rest of the night .... using slides, file film and audio reports .... and we were thus the only TV broadcaster to provide reports from LA, for the rest of the night ... since it was, back then, next to impossible to open a TV network, requiring all sorts of approval from top executives, not to mention the technical problems ... with most engineers having gone home and to sleep.

One of the saddest moments in our broadcast lives ... but also, deep down, a feeling of pride over what we had achieved as broadcast journalists.

Long, long ago ......

Gary Franklin

No comments: