22 Days In November
10:45 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Look Back At 1963 Live TV Coverage Of JFK's Assassination

Throughout November, KERA will mark the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination by taking a closer look at that fateful day, what it meant to the country, how it changed Dallas, and more.

Today, we look back at television coverage of the president's killing.

Back in 1963, Americans got their news from newspapers (morning and afternoon editions) or radio or television. In most cities, people only had a few black-and-white TV channels to choose from.

While the Kennedy assassination changed the country forever, it propelled TV -- and network news outlets -- into the spotlight.

For four days, CBS, NBC and ABC provided non-stop coverage. For four days, Americans gathered around their television sets.

Coverage from CBS stands out, notably because of anchorman Walter Cronkite. His voice was filled with emotion as he reported Kennedy’s death.

Cronkite interrupted “As The World Turns,” a soap opera, with news that JFK had been shot:

Cronkite offered more details on the shooting. The following clip includes footage from the Dallas Trade Mart, where people were waiting to hear him speak. Later, in the clip, Cronkite announced: “From Dallas, Texas, the flash apparently official, President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.” He took off his glasses and looked up at a clock. “2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time. Some 38 minutes ago.” His voice started to crack. He continued, saying that Lyndon Johnson had left Parkland Hospital in Dallas and would eventually be sworn in.

Here's more from Cronkite:

Later this month, CBS News plans to stream online its 1963 coverage of Kennedy’s assassination.

Of course, NBC and ABC offered coverage, too, back in the day.

Here’s NBC’s coverage  (It includes an announcement made by Don Pardo, who would go on to introduce "Saturday Night Live.")

More NBC coverage:

And here’s ABC’s coverage:

Here are highlights featuring coverage from all three networks:

Don Pardo reflects on announcing the news that Kennedy had been shot:

KERA wants to hear your JFK stories and memories. Email us at jfk@kera.org. We may contact you or use your memory in an upcoming story.