Piece for Slate on "anchorman"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Jul 18 15:36:38 UTC 2009

I wrote up something for Slate about whether Cronkite was really the first


I drew on ADS-L discussions from back in '03 and '04, especially research by
Barry and Fred, who found early references to news panel "anchor men"
(Griffin Bancroft on "Capitol Cloakroom" and Lawrence Spivak on "Meet the
Press"). Here are additional cites that I turned up this time around...

Early references to John Cameron Swayze as "anchor man" of "Who Said That?"
(Fred had turned up a cite from NYT, 9/10/50):

1949 _Washington Post_ 3 Apr. VI4/1 "Who Said That?," the quiz show on which
celebrities identify the quotations of other celebrities, moves to a
Saturday night spot on TV next Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC-TV. Robert Trout
stays on as emcee and John Cameron Swayze as anchor man in an otherwise
changing team of experts.
1949 _Chicago Tribune_ 22 Oct. 6/3 WNBQ -- Who Said That? Robert Trout
conducts an informative and amusing quiz show with John Gunther (Inside
America), Raymond Swing (Commentator), Faye Emerson (Actress), and John
Cameron Swayze as anchor man.

Early references to Cronkite as "anchor man" at the '52 conventions:

1952 _Chicago Tribune_ 13 Mar. III8/3 CBS-TV announced yesterday it will set
up a complete duplicate of its New York City network headquarters at
Chicago's International Amphitheater to telecast the national political
conventions next July. ... Walter Cronkite, chief of the network's
Washington bureau, will be anchor man of the CBS crew.
1952 _Hartford Courant_ 6 July (Sunday Magazine) 15/1 (caption) Walter
Cronkite, CBS-TV Washington newsman, will be "anchor man" at the
Presidential Conventions, coordinating switches from one news point or
reporter to another.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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