Review

Remembering Charles Kuralt

by Ralph Grizzle

As a young child
who grew up watching television, I often had the chance to catch a
viewing of the CBS news series "Sunday Morning," featuring Charles
Kuralt. Through his poetic imagery and vivid lines, Kuralt filled
my head with images of people and places that existed far beyond my
scope of worldly experience. He spoke of the beauty in these places
as though, he too, were viewing them through the eyes of a child
for the first time. He had the ability to get your attention, to
pull you in, and to keep you on the edge of your seat until the
story was finished. Charles Kuralt was, to me, the ultimate
storyteller. Although he is gone, his life lives on within the
pages of Ralph Grizzle's new book, REMEMBERING CHARLES KURALT.
Through countless interviews with Kuralt's family, friends, and
colleagues, Kuralt's own life story is revealed for us to
read.

Charles Bishop Kuralt was born in Wilmington, North Carolina on
September 10, 1934. The book tells us that his parents, Wallace and
Ina Kuralt, were both college graduates who, because of the Great
Depression, were forced to work extremely hard to find any decent
career prospects. His father was a UNC graduate with a Phi Beta
Kappa key and a degree in commerce. His mother was a graduate of
East Carolina Teachers College. The two met on an eight-week,
cross-country trip sponsored by UNC. Shortly before Christmas of
1931, Wallace proposed to Ina, and the two were married. The book
goes on to explain that young Charles became very familiar with
relocating, as his father was forced to move frequently in order to
obtain success and growing career stability. This constant moving
could offer some insight into Charles Kuralt's nomadic interests as
an adult.

As the book progresses, we learn about young Kuralt's first signs
of independent thinking. As a kindergarten student at St. Agnes
Academy in Washington, Charles was said to have asked the school's
Sister Rosalind, "If thou shalt worship no graven images, then what
are all those statues of the Virgin Mary and the saints doing
around the school?" Although the other nuns found his question to
be inappropriate, Sister Rosalind smiled and promoted Kuralt to the
first grade.

It was at the age of six that Charles first dreamed of becoming a
reporter. When he turned 13, in 1948, he was already working in
radio. ABC-affiliate WAYS gave Kuralt his own radio show, "Junior
Sports Parade." He would host the show every Tuesday afternoon. The
position did not pay, but Charles was not in it for the money. He
loved covering high school and junior high school sports and hoped
to someday be a sportswriter for the Charlotte News.

As I read further, I discovered that the road to success for
Charles Kuralt was never ending. Each step along the way proved to
be a stepping stone to something greater. At the young age of 16,
Charles began his freshman year at the University of North
Carolina. A few years later he ran for editor of the school
newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, and won by a narrow margin of
2,944 to 1,585. Oddly enough, Charles left Chapel Hill in the
summer of 1955, without a degree, to take a job with the
Charlotte News. Because Charles had failed to complete a
couple of physical education courses, he did not receive his
degree. It was not until 10 years later that the University
modified its graduation requirements, allowing Charles to receive
his bachelor of arts in History, not in Journalism as has been
widely reported.  

In the next section of the book, Ralph Grizzle goes into Kuralt's
years at CBS, 1957-1994, and his rise to stardom with his news
segment, "On The Road." This section of the book includes
interviews with Walter Cronkite, Bernie Birnbaum, Andy Rooney, and
other colleagues at CBS. I found this section most interesting
because of the inside perspective it provides the reader into
Kurlat's life behinds the scenes. Each interview brings to life a
different side of the man so many of us saw as a regular on CBS
news.

To sum things up, REMEMBERING CHARLES KURALT is a great book for
the reader who wants more than just facts and time lines. The book
provides a very in-depth look into the life of Charles Kuralt and
his road to success. The interviews within add a very personal
touch to the story, making this book not only informative, but
enjoyable to read.

Reviewed by Jonathan P. Lamas (jonlamas@aol.com) on January 23, 2011

Remembering Charles Kuralt
by Ralph Grizzle

  • Publication Date: July 4, 2000
  • Genres: Biography, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Kenilworth Media
  • ISBN-10: 0967909600
  • ISBN-13: 9780967909608