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Hams Remember Another Side of Cronkite’s Life


ARRL, the national association for amateur radio, is remembering Walter Cronkite. The late, revered broadcast journalist was a member of the association; and he narrated a video in 2003 that explained amateur radio’s story to non-hams.

According to the article on the ARRL Web site, Steve Mendelsohn was Cronkite’s radio engineer at CBS for many years: “I had many chances to discuss my favorite hobby, ham radio, with ‘the world’s most trusted anchor man,’” he’s quoted as saying. “Gradually, his interest increased, but on finding that he had to pass a Morse code test, he balked, saying it was too hard for him; however, he told me he had purchased a receiver and listened every night for a few minutes to the Novice bands.”

Mendelsohn shares an interesting story about how Cronkite later passed his test while preparing a TV newscast. Then, when he did go on the air as an amateur operator for the first time, another ham replied, “That’s the worst Walter Cronkite imitation I’ve ever heard.” When Mendelsohn insisted it was indeed Cronkite, the man replied, “Walter Cronkite is not even a ham, and if he was, he certainly wouldn’t be here on 10 meters.”