CBS World News Roundup - The Early Years

The Early Years

When the show first went on the air it was hosted by veteran radio personality Robert Trout. The first show gave the world the voices of Edward R. Murrow and William L. Shirer. In fact, it was the first time Murrow had ever delivered a news report. During the early years of the war, Murrow's reports from London and Shirer's reports from Berlin were essential listening to anyone trying to keep informed on events unfolding in Europe.

The program was a 35-minute special report from multiple locations around the world as the pre-war crisis mounts. It was the first time that on-the-scene European field correspondents were linked with a central anchor in New York for a national broadcast.

Most broadcast references credit either CBS President William S. Paley or News Director Paul White as coming up with the idea for the show, as a way to trump Max Jordan's NBC coverage of the Anschluss. The previous day, Shirer had fled from Vienna to London at the request of Murrow (the CBS European chief) to give the first uncensored eyewitness account of Germany's takeover of Austria.

It was White who relayed the order to Murrow and Shirer for the first Roundup. The two, Murrow in Vienna and Shirer in London, then had the responsibility of linking up reporters and circuits that same day...a Sunday, when many of the key people would be mostly unreachable.

The format was so successful that it was repeated the following evening, and then revived later that year during the Sudetenland crisis. Eventually, it evolved into a daily show.

As World War II raged in Europe, the Roundup format spawned a weekend edition, The World Today. It was just before one 2:30 p.m. Eastern broadcast, on December 7, 1941, that White and World Today anchor John Charles Daly received word in New York that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Daly's report at the top of the show, among the first on any radio station or network, is the one most often used in audio retrospectives. (For more on that, see John Charles Daly.)

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