Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A Compendium of Chet Huntley - David Brinkley Tag Stories


So here's a tape that is really something. For those who enjoy media recordings, in this case, specifically vintage news reporting, you will probably find this amazing. I know that there are others who will not listen at all, or who will bail out a few minutes into this two-hours-plus recording.

What I have here is someone's collection of the "tag" stories from the end of each night's broadcast of the legendary Huntley-Brinkley report. This was the NBC television news broadcast, from the mid-'50's through 1970, that first gave us the concept of the dual anchor newscast, and which was, along with CBS' Walter Cronkite broadcasts, where a large percentage of Americans got their nightly news during the 1960's.

Then, as now, most newscasts ended with a short "tag" story. With few exceptions, these were usually lighthearted, whimsical, odd or otherwise not as serious as the rest of the evening's news. Our mystery reel to reel enthusiast made it his or her job to record these stories - and only these stories - every night, for God knows how long (I'm guessing that this is not the only tape this person made - this particular tape is from 1962). There are a few other reporters filling in (on vacations and such) here and there, but mostly, the voices you will here, telling the stories and commenting, are those of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.

I really wonder just how amazing this is - it seems to me at least possible that this material does not exist - at least to this level of completeness - anywhere else.

Download: Chet Huntley and David Brinkley - A Compendium of Huntley-Brinkley Tag Stories

Oh, and our intrepid documentarian also kept detailed written records of the shows he or she taped. Here is just one of THREE handwritten logs found inside this tape box.

UPDATE: I had a request to post all of the documentation from inside the box, and so there are now two scans and a picture, below, the picture being from the inside of the tape box, so it is a little less clear than the scans. There are more tape files after these pictures:


For those of you who like your sound clips shorter (32 minutes), and those who like Slide Show narrations, I have one of those narrations which is particularly unsuited to listening without the slides. Isn't that fun? This is a slide show meant to accompany a presentation of the winners of a photography contest! There's something I can't quite explain, that I enjoy about this tape - something in the detail that the narrator goes into, about the contest, the photographs and the photographers. I hope you enjoy it, too:

Download: Unknown - A Slide Show for a Photography Contest


  1. This Huntley / Brinkley recording sounds exciting!

    The archiver was obviously (in my opinion) trying to archive some of these news nuggets for posterity. But why?

    This anonymous documentarian had an eye for detail and took great care to preserve their treasure trove. Like the proverbial amber, these tapes are an audio time capsule, waiting to be discovered someday.

    Hearing these old reporters brings to mind how news was taken more seriously back in the day. Networks weren't interested in how cute or pretty their reporters were. They were more interested in the news and who could consistently deliver, on deadline, day after day.

    If CBS, NBC, et al were so concerned about ratings and personalities back in the day, we'd never have seen trailblazers such as Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow. Instead, we'd have been force fed a steady diet of infotainment fluff and Katie Couric clones.

    Oh, wait. Nevermind!

    Thank you Bob, for discovering & preserving these tapes so that another generation might listen and learn.

  2. This is an incredible find. Chiefly because it preserves a portion of evening newscasts that do not exist. While the networks were by the early 1960s generally conscientious about preserving their coverage of "big" events like Conventions, Elections etc. and while they would retain the raw film used for feature stories, the newscasts themself were generally not kept. This didn't start to change until the late 60s at CBS but NBC we know didn't start preserving the evening newscasts on a regular basis until 1972. Vanderbilt University started recording them themselves every night in August 1968 so that preserves some section not saved by the networks but this record from the JFK era is otherwise lost. Well done!

  3. Oh and incidentally if you could also make available the other log notes for this reel that would be appreciated. This is again a very significant find for broadcast news historians.

  4. Thank you Bob, for including the additional notations. I"m also a completist and this is a piece (albeit, a tiny piece) of archival history.