Charles Osgood: Rhymes, Bow Ties, and the Unconventional Voice of Broadcast Journalism

Remembering Charles Osgood: The Unconventional Voice of Broadcast Journalism

Charles Osgood, the iconic newscaster known for his unconventional storytelling on radio and television, passed away at the age of 91 at his home in Saddle River, N.J. The cause was dementia, as reported by CBS News, quoting his family. Osgood was a familiar face on television as the host of “CBS Sunday Morning” from 1994 to 2016, but his heart belonged to radio, the medium he grew up listening to in the 1930s and ’40s.

Osgood, distinguished by his trademark bow ties on TV and a distinctive voice on radio, gained popularity for his short “Osgood File” segments on CBS Radio. His voice, not as booming as Paul Harvey’s or as deeply authoritative as Edward R. Murrow’s, had a unique quality that resonated with audiences. In his broadcasts, he often closed with the paradoxical phrase, “See you on the radio,” showcasing the cleverness that his audience had come to expect.

Despite his success, Osgood never took a journalism course or worked for a traditional news outlet, a fact he proudly mentioned in interviews. In a 1985 interview with Broadcasting magazine, he noted, “Whatever is unique or different in my style would probably have been drummed out of me in journalism school on the first day.”

Known for his rhyming style, which became a regular feature in his 40s, Osgood faced initial resistance from management. However, he persisted, incorporating rhyme into his storytelling, earning comparisons to the jerky rhythms of Rod Serling, creator of “The Twilight Zone.” His rhyming segments, often dismissed as “rampant doggerel,” resonated with listeners and added a whimsical touch to his broadcasts.

Osgood’s rhymes covered a range of topics, from love poems inspired by Census Bureau categories to critiques of language misuse. His ability to play with words and create catchy phrases became a hallmark of his style. In his words, “See you on the radio” became a peculiar yet endearing signoff, defying the traditional notion that radio is only for the ears.

In an industry often driven by rules and conventions, Charles Osgood stood out for his distinctive approach and commitment to his craft. His legacy as a trailblazer in broadcast journalism lives on, leaving an indelible mark on the medium he loved. “See you on the radio,” Mr. Osgood, and thank you for the unconventional journey.

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