Longest-serving network anchor brings nearly 50 years of experience to Letterman lecture

Topics: Speakers, College of Communication Information and Media

December 3, 2009

Ted Koppel, once dubbed "the smartest man in television" by Newsweek magazine, is the next presenter in the David Letterman Distinguished Professional Lecture and Workshop Series at Ball State. The multiple Emmy, Peabody and duPont-Columbia Award-winning journalist will speak on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m. in Pruis Hall on campus, and his lecture is free and open to the public.

Currently senior news analyst for National Public Radio (NPR), Koppel holds the distinction of being the nation's longest-running network daily news anchor for his work on ABC's "Nightline" from 1980 until 2005. Today he is a regular contributor to NPR's midday news and talk show "Talk of the Nation," where, through conversations with host Neal Conan and callers into the program, Koppel provides analysis, commentary and perspective on the issues, topics and events that shape our world. And that includes the media.

Like Newton Minow, the former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman who in 1961 famously referred to television as a "vast wasteland" of game shows, formula comedies, violence, private eyes, gangsters, cartoons and commercials, Koppel does not hesitate to occasionally take to task the very industry that has propelled his own career. Of the ongoing proliferation of cable news and entertainment channels, he's observed, "We have reconstructed the Tower of Babel, and it is a television antenna. We now communicate with everyone and say absolutely nothing."

Koppel began his broadcasting career at WMCA Radio, New York, before joining ABC Radio News as a correspondent in 1963. One of his first assignments was to cover the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He transitioned to television in 1966 as a war correspondent for the network, covering Vietnam. In the years since, his news reporting and analysis has spanned topics from national security, religious and social values, privacy and health care to political as well as military conflicts in South Africa, Iran, Iraq and the Middle East.

Among many other accomplishments, Koppel scored a journalistic coup by being the first Western journalist to reach Baghdad after Iraq's Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 to precipitate the first Gulf War.

Most recently, he was managing editor of the Discovery Channel, anchoring and producing long-form programming that examined major global events.
In the course of his nearly half-century behind the microphone and in front of the camera, Koppel has earned has won 41 Emmy Awards, 11 George Foster Peabody Awards, 12 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, 10 Overseas Press Club Awards, two George Polk Awards and two Sigma Delta Chi Awards, the latter the highest honor bestowed for public service by the Society of Professional Journalists.

He also was the inaugural recipient of the Goldsmith Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Joan Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and is an inductee of the Broadcasting Hall of Fame. He is the co-author, with his friend and colleague, Marvin Kalb, formerly of CBS News, of the national bestseller "In the National Interest" (Simon and Schuster, 1977), and, with Kyle Gibson, "Nightline: History in the Making and the Making of Television" (New York Times Books, 1996).

A native of Lancashire, England, Koppel moved to the United States with his parents when he was 13 years old. He holds a bachelor of science from Syracuse University and a master's degree in mass communications research and political science from Stanford University.

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