Award-winning journalist Charles Osgood, who anchored “CBS Sunday Morning” for 22 years and was host of the long-running radio program “The Osgood File,” died at home in New Jersey. He was 91. The cause of death was dementia, his family said.
Osgood started as a classical music DJ at WGMS in Washington, D.C. When he learned that the position of band announcer in the U.S. Army would soon open, and being 1A in the draft, Osgood decided to join the Army and its Washington-D.C.-based band. He became its announcer and met band arranger John Cacavas, with whom he collaborated for years afterward, eventually writing the lyrics for “Gallant Men,” which was a Top 40 hit in December 1966.
He left the Army in 1958 and returned to WGMS before being tapped as general manager to help start up the nation’s first pay cable channel, WHCT, in Hartford, Conn. The experiment failed, and in 1963 Osgood took a college friend’s offer for an on-air position at ABC Radio in New York. He spent four years as a general assignment reporter, and contributed to the “Flair Report,” where he began rhyming pieces and reading them on air.
A WTOP post states: Osgood, a gifted news writer, poet and author, spent 45 years at CBS News before retiring in September 2016. Osgood began anchoring “CBS Sunday Morning” in 1994. During his run on the show it reached its highest ratings levels in three decades, and three times earned the Daytime Emmy as Outstanding Morning Program.
Osgood’s love of poetry and of music were also on display in “Sunday Morning,” whether it was his playful prose, or playing Christmas carols on the piano during the show’s holiday broadcasts.
Often referred to as CBS News’ poet-in-residence, Osgood was called “one of the last great broadcast writers” by Charles Kuralt, whom Osgood succeeded as host of the Sunday morning magazine program in 1994. But he did more than carry on a great American oral tradition; he could also play piano, organ, banjo, violin, and was an accomplished composer and lyricist who could also sing along. He employed his many talents inside and outside CBS, sometimes performing with professional orchestras such as The New York Pops, The Boston Pops and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Beginning in 1967, Osgood was an anchor-reporter for WCBS NewsRadio 88 in New York, where he anchored the first morning drive shift when the station became an all-news outlet.
His distinctive style landed him a job at the CBS Network, where he launched one of the longest-running features in radio history: What came to be known as “The Osgood File.”
IMAGE: John Filo/CBS