OUT OF THIN AIR by Reuven Frank

OUT OF THIN AIR

An Insider's History of Network News
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Agreeably sardonic reflections and recollections from a top broadcaster whose career in TV coincided with its emergence as a preeminent news medium. At the behest of a boyhood pal (novelist Gerald Green), Frank quit his job as night city editor of the Newark Evening News and joined NBC TV in 1950. During his 38 globe-trotting years with the network, he wrote as well as produced a variety of news programs, including the Huntley-Brinkley Report, so-called instant specials, and a flock of prize-winning documentaries. Among other accomplishments, the author claims complete credit for the following lines: ``Goodnight, David. Goodnight, Chet. And Goodnight for NBC News.'' Somewhat reluctantly, he climbed the corporate ladder, becoming president of NBC News, from 1968 to 1973 and then again from 1982 to 1984. In recounting the swift rise and subsequent fall of broadcast news in the context of his own experiences at NBC, Frank offers the equivalent of an anecdotal history of the post-WW II era. During its heyday, he argues, TV not only covered but also helped shape great events. Cases in point range from presidential nominating conventions through the civil- rights movement, JFK's assassination, space exploration, the Vietnam War, and Watergate. With trashy infotainment shows now crowding the airwaves, the author concludes that TV has sold its birthright for a mess of pottage. Program content apart, he laments that latter-day producers forget that TV is a visual as well as narrative medium, albeit one ill-equipped to handle exposition. Nor does Frank neglect to provide adroitly acerbic perspectives on colleagues, superiors, celebrities, rivals, and other notables, including sponsors. A witty, illuminating memoir of the years when TV news was a hit-or-miss proposition.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-671-67758-6
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1991




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