Barbara Walters Joins ABC News

By Rick Chromey | April 22, 2021 |

In the mid-1970s, television news was largely a man’s sport. And then Barbara Walters joined the ABC News anchor desk with Harry Reasoner to shatter the glass ceiling. The women’s liberation movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s–including the Equal Rights Amendment for women in America–was reimagining the workplace.

Barbara Walters was a nightly visual for how far women had come. In time there would be women sports reporters (in men’s locker rooms), women astronauts (Sally Ride), women CEOs, women police officers and fire personnel, women referees and professional sports (WNBA), among many other workplace roles.

But in many ways it was Barbara Walters who pioneered this social change simply by her presence and excellence in news broadcasting. She paved the way for the Jane Pauleys, Katie Courics, Diane Sawyers and Savannah Guthries.

And she was very good at it.

Geraldo’s Vault Comes Up Empty

By Rick Chromey | April 21, 2021 |

America tuned in, by the millions, for this true “reality television” moment. It was unscripted made-for-ratings television. Geraldo Rivera had made a name for himself as a no-nonsense commentator on American culture and politics for ABC News. He had his own talk show that drew modestly good ratings.

On this date, Rivera’s image was tarnished.

The build up to the moment was pure television drama. Somehow Rivera had found Al Capone’s secret vault. Inside, he proposed, could be all sorts of treasures. However, when the moment arrived and the vault was opened…NOTHING.

But it was something.

Television was moving toward LIVE REALITY. Reality television (taped) was already around, but live reality was not…at best that was the fodder of fledgling cable television news outlets like CNN. But Geraldo introduced a new type of reality: live and unscripted.

In time, Geraldo Rivera would recover his reputation (somewhat) but LIVE REALITY TELEVISION was here to stay…and thrive…from CourtTV (live trials) to LivePD (live police action) to 24/7 news coverage.

Columbine Shootings Begin New Era

By Rick Chromey | April 20, 2021 |

Today is a day that will live in infamy for the Personal Computer/Cellphone (b. 1980 – 2000) and Net (b. 1990 – 2010) generations. Also commonly known as “Millennials,” the tragic school shooting in Columbine was the beginning of several that would tattoo these generations. From a kindergarten in Sandy Hook to a high school in Parkland, FL, these two generations would grow up in an age of terror (including their marker event on September 11, 2001). Nowhere would be safe. Mass shootings occurred at theaters, concerts, restaurants, workplaces, even church.

Today is a solemn day to reflect and remember how we felt 22 years ago. I remember coming home from a long day of work, flipping on the television to be confronted with the Columbine shootings. As I watched the streams of teens exit the school, tears rolling down their faces, in shock and fear, my heart was broken.

The innocence was now gone.


The American Revolution Begins!

By Rick Chromey | April 19, 2021 |

Today was the day that America had enough. A single shot set off a revolution that changed thirteen colonies into thirteen “united states of America.”

It also changed the world. In a year dozens of founding fathers would gather to formally declare independence from Great Britain (July 4, 1776).

The American story was just beginning…and today was a giant step forward.

Baseball’s First Pitch!

By Rick Chromey | April 17, 2021 |

Although connected to British games like “rounders” and cricket, American baseball was a novelty. A boys game that men played on a “field” in the cities.

It’s a game without a clock. A game of “threes” and “three squared” (bases, outs, innings, players). It’s the only game where the defense controls the ball.

It’s America’s game. Our original national past time. And it all started officially on this date.

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (original version)

Walter Cronkite Debuts!

By Rick Chromey | April 16, 2021 |

If you grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, television anchor news was summed up in a few names…Brinkley, Smith, Rather, Reasoner…and “Uncle Walter” Cronkite.

Cronkite proved the most trusted and durable. He was there for Kennedy’s assassination and man’s moon walk. He was there for the civil rights and women’s rights movement. He was there for Woodstock and Watergate. He was also instrumental in turning the tide of the Vietnam War.

In 1968, Cronkite went to Vietnam to see the war for himself. He returned with a fresh perspective: it was time for America to get out of the conflict. His new view angered President Johnson, discouraged patriotic Americans who trusted their government and energized the anti-war movement.

It was the first time that a single man–in the national media–changed the direction of history. Indeed, after 1968, the Vietnam War became an American albatross and Cronkite’s admonition proved right…even righteous.

And today was the day the Cronkite era was launched.

And that’s the way it was.

Boston Marathon Bombings!

By Rick Chromey | April 15, 2021 |

A terrorist attack by two Muslim young men upon one of America’s greatest sports traditions instilled new fears into a culture still recovering from September 11, 2001.

The reality is the Net (1990 – 2010) and iTech (2000 – 2020) generations have grown up in an age of domestic terror. From Oklahoma City to Columbine to Twin Towers to Sandy Hook and Las Vegas, these younger American generations have seen a lot of bloodshed.

The First McDonalds Restaurant Opens!

By Rick Chromey | April 15, 2021 |

“Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun.”

This famous 1970s commercial ditty put McDonalds on the map, helped by the clown Ronald McDonald, the Hamburglar and, for the Millennial generation, PlayLands. Today the “golden arches” are one of America’s most iconic visual brands.

And it all started today in Illinois, thanks to Ray Kroc.

Jackie Robinson Makes a Hit!

By Rick Chromey | April 15, 2021 |

In 1947, in many U.S. places (from Birmingham to Philadelphia, Cincinnati to Little Rock), black Americans were segregated into “ghettos” and separated in public life. In the South, especially, blacks had to use different bathrooms, eat at different restaurants (or on different chairs), sleep at different hotels, ride at the back of the bus, and go to different schools.

There was a clear and present prejudice against the black.

Jackie Robinson changed all that.

Once white America saw how Jackie “could hit that ball,” it was no longer reasonable to wink at a Jim Crow culture and tolerate racism against blacks. Times were changing.

And it all started on this date in 1947.

P.S. Today, in honor of Jackie Robinson, every major league ballplayer will wear is uniform number: “42.”

The Dust Bowl Cometh

By Rick Chromey | April 14, 2021 |

The “Dust Bowl” got its name on this date (a.k.a. “Black Sunday”) when a huge windstorm blanketed the midwest.

America was in the heart of a Great Depression at the time. Could life be more miserable? The Dust Bowl would have one benefactor: California. With news of work and a better life in the Golden State, countless Americans migrated out of the Midwest to the west coast during the 1930s.

In the decades that followed, California would continue to rise like the bear on its flag, thanks to Hollywood, Dodgers and Giants, rock and roll, citrus and surfing.

But without that Dust Bowl migration, things might’ve been much different. It’s the rest of the story.