Uncle Walter

I miss Walter Cronkite. But there’s a part of me that’s glad he’s not having to witness the presidential election of 2016.

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Today’s Google Doodle is Walter Cronkite. Today is the 100th anniversary of his birth. (I wrote about him in 2009 when he passed away.)

It’s difficult to explain the influence of the trusted Uncle Walter to someone too young to remember Walter Cronkite’s tenure as the CBS Evening News’ anchor. In my memory, the two most historic events of my childhood–the assassination of JFK and the moon landing–are as much about Watler Cronkite as they are about the events themselves. In my home, he narrated the Vietnam War each evening right before supper. I don’t know why we didn’t turn the TV off.

The local newspaper, Time magazine and Walter Cronkite, were my family’s consistent news media staple through the 1960s and early 70s.

When we were in our late twenties, my wife and I spent a couple of nights on Martha’s Vineyard. Knowing that Cronkite spent the month of August there, we joked constantly about what we’d say if we ran into him. I recall we agreed that it wouldn’t be anything related to the comment, “and that’s the way it is,” his nightly signoff phrase.

I’ve forgotten what we agreed it would be, but on our last night there, we were walking down a narrow alley to a restaurant and had to squeeze up against a cottage wall to let an approaching car by. As the car crept by in order not to hit us, we looked at the driver and recognized immediately it was Cronkite. Instead of having something pithy to say, all my wife and I could do was laugh at our actual encounter with the icon. I think we said something dumb like, “hey, you’re Walter Cronkite.”

I miss Walter Cronkite. But there’s a part of me that’s glad he’s not having to witness the presidential election of 2016. I’ve done all I can to ignore it.

Stuff I Learn Only From The BBC World Service

The BBC is a great example of a vast media empire that uses its resources to add context — history programming, for example — into the current flow of news.

I just heard two early-morning episodes (Central Time) of the BBC series called, “The Why Factor.” One was about how America sees itself (followed next week by how it’s seen by the rest of the world) and the other on why people have different preferences in the types of music they enjoy. (More on that one in a second.)

I’ve written before about my fascination with contextual content (the hows, whys, data, background and how-tos) — as much as I am fascinated with the chronological content we news and info-junkies plug in to. The BBC is a great example of a vast media empire that uses its resources to add context — history programming, for example — into its constant flow of current news.

For example, here is a factoid I just learned on “The Why Factor” episode about music.

According to research conducted by Spotify,the generational difference in music preference between Millenials and Baby Boomers boils down to Skrillex vs. Roy Orbison. (Meaning, the music you’d least likely find any overlap among people who are teenagers vs. 60+.)

I’m convinced (but I’ll note I’m in neither camp):