From covering spirited celebrations like the 1989 dismantling of the Berlin Wall to being a go-to anchor during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mr. Brokaw may not have seen everything, but he has probably come close. When he finally stepped away from the anchor desk, it was not to rest on his laurels, but to embrace a new and varied career as correspondent, author, television host, and public speaker.
And as a public speaker, Tom Brokaw brings his unique take on current events to AAOS members on Thursday, March 6, at the Annual Meeting in San Francisco.
From Webster, S.D., to the world
Thomas John Brokaw was born in Webster, S. D., on Feb. 6, 1940. In 1962, he graduated from the University of South Dakota with a B.A. in political science. While still in college, he began his broadcast career as a newscaster, weather person, and staff announcer at KTIV in Sioux City, Iowa.
Upon graduation, he worked for several different stations as a news editor, finally taking a job as an anchor with NBC affiliate KNBC in Los Angeles in 1966. In 1973, he became the anchor of the NBC Saturday Night News, and 3 years later, he began serving as the host of The Today Show.
Mr. Brokaw’s biggest break may have come in 1982, when he was hired along with Roger Mudd to co-anchor the NBC Nightly News. When he became sole anchor the next year, he began to build a reputation as one of the most trusted and respected figures in broadcast journalism.
A commitment to excellence
Brokaw’s long career is filled with highlights, including the following:
- He was the first American to conduct an exclusive one-on-one interview with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
- He was the first American anchor to report on human rights abuses in Tibet and conduct an interview with the Dalai Lama.
- He was the only anchor to report from the scene at the fall of the Berlin Wall.
- He was the first person to interview President George W. Bush after he declared the end of major combat in Iraq in April 2003.
Throughout his career, Mr. Brokaw has won many prestigious awards, including a 2004 Peabody for the documentary Tom Brokaw Reports: A Question of Fairness, which examined the ongoing struggle with race, fairness, and higher education through events surrounding the University of Michigan and its affirmative action policy; several Emmys, including one for lifetime achievement; an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for Why Can’t We Live Together, which looked at racial separation in American suburbs; and the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award, which is given for a “commitment to excellence that exemplifies the career of Edward R. Murrow.”
In 2007, Mr. Brokaw was inducted into the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. He was also the first journalist ever recognized by the U.S. Army with the George Catlett Marshall Medal—awarded to individuals who have exhibited “selfless service to the United States of America.”
Most recently, Mr. Brokaw wrote Boom! Voices of the Sixties—Personal Reflections on the ’60s and Today, a look at the baby boom generation and something of a follow-up to The Greatest Generation—his 1998 examination of those who came of age during the Great Depression and World War II.
Attendees at the AAOS 2008 Annual Meeting will have the opportunity to see and hear the legendary news anchor when he speaks in the Gateway Ballroom in the Moscone Center on Thursday, March 6, at 11 a.m., immediately following the Business and Ceremonial Meetings.
Peter Pollack is a staff writer for AAOS Now. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org