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    Newsman Mike Wallace to retire at 87

2006-03-18 07:16

NEW YORK: Legendary US newsman Mike Wallace has announced his retirement after nearly 40 years with the pioneering "60 Minutes" weekly newscast, where he made his reputation as a hard-hitting interviewer.

"As I approach my 88th birthday, it's become apparent to me that my eyes and ears ... aren't quite what they used to be," Wallace said in a statement.

"And the prospect of long flights to wherever in search of whatever are not quite as appealing."

Wallace, a part of the "60 Minutes" team since the programme's inception in 1968, said he would retire at the end of the current season, after which he would remain available to the CBS network as a "correspondent emeritus."

"Mike Wallace is one of a few giants of broadcast journalism for whom a list of endless superlatives can't and don't do justice," said Sean McManus, president of CBS News.

"He's had such a powerful impact on all of us who work here, on how we conduct interviews and how we report stories," said "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager. "There will always be a piece of Mike in everything we do."

From news writer to legend

Mike Wallace was born Myron Wallace in Brookline, Massachusetts. He graduated from university in 1939 and immediately went to work in radio, first for a local station in Ann Arbor, then in Detroit, at that time still a regional centre for radio drama. By the 1940s he was working as a news writer and announcer for the radio station of the Chicago Sun newspaper.

During World War II, Wallace served as a communications officer in the US Navy. He returned to Chicago after the war, and became a news reporter for radio station WMAQ.

By then he had adopted the nickname Mike, and as Mike Wallace he was to become one of America's best-known broadcasters.

In 1951 he moved to New York and joined the CBS network for the first time. For a time he handled a variety of broadcasting chores, and made the move to television without immediately finding his niche. He worked on Broadway briefly, playing a leading role in the play Reclining Figure.

It was only after leaving CBS in 1955 that he made his first lasting mark on the public consciousness. In 1956, he made a startling breakthrough with the programme Nightbeat.

In 1968, Wallace received the assignment that was to define the mature phase of his career, and change the course of broadcast journalism. CBS News producer Don Hewitt invited Wallace to co-host and edit a new programme with an unprecedented format, a prime-time news magazine. "60 Minutes" premiered on September 24, 1968.

Over the years, the a roll call of world leaders that have subjected themselves to Wallace's famously confrontational interview style include George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Deng Xiaoping, Manuel Noriega, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Menachem Begin, Anwar el-Sadat and Yasser Arafat.

He won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 1996 for the CBS Reports broadcast "In the Killing Fields of America," a three-hour report he co-anchored on violence in America. His other professional honours include 19 Emmy Awards, three DuPont-Columbia University Awards, and three Peabody Awards. In 1991, he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

(China Daily 03/18/2006 page6)


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