Charles Osgood, the witty CBS News correspondent who anchored “CBS Sunday Morning” for more than two decades (a longer tenure than the show’s original host, Charles Kuralt), died Tuesday at the age of 91, after living with him for a time. Dementia, according to CBS News.
He also hosted a permanent radio news segment called “The Osgood File” between 1971 and 2017. The audio vignettes were heard four times each weekday morning on various stations across the US, with Osgood sometimes analyzing a news event and at other moments offering commentary appropriate to the latest headlines. Sometimes he would bid farewell to listeners by saying: “See you on the radio.”
Osgood was known to say, “Short words, short sentences, short paragraphs.” “There is nothing that cannot be improved by making it shorter and better.”
He spent 45 years at CBS News before retiring in 2016. During his tenure, “Sunday Morning” reached some of its highest ratings levels in three decades and won the Daytime Emmy as Outstanding Morning Program on three separate occasions.
“To say there is no one like Charles Osgood would be an understatement,” Rand Morrison, longtime executive producer of “Sunday Morning,” told CBS News. “He embodied the heart and soul of ‘Sunday Morning.’ “His signature bow tie, his poetry… his mere presence was special to the audience and those who worked with him.”
Charles Osgood Wood III was born on January 8, 1933 in New York. He grew up in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New Jersey, and spent his early years taking piano lessons, delivering newspapers, and listening to the radio. When he attended Fordham University in the 1950s, he spent hours at campus radio station WFUV, where he became the lead announcer and started his own program featuring talk and piano styles. He would graduate with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1954.
Osgood began his career as a classical music DJ at WGMS in Washington, DC. He soon decided to join the US Army to take the position of group announcer. He collaborated for years with musician and band arranger John Cacavas. The duo wrote the lyrics for “Gallant Men,” which hit the Top 40 in December 1966.
Osgood left the Army in 1958 and returned to WGMS, where he was then appointed general manager to help launch the nation’s first pay cable channel, WHCT, in Hartford, CT. The venture was not very successful, and in 1963 Osgood took an on-air position at ABC Radio in New York. He spent four years as a general assignment reporter and contributed to the “Talent Report,” where he began rhyming pieces and reading them on air.
In 1967, Osgood became an anchor reporter for WCBS NewsRadio 88 in New York, where he worked his first morning drive shift as the station became a news outlet.