The Huntley-Brinkley Report (sometimes known as the Texaco Huntley-Brinkley Report, because of one of its early sponsors) was NBC's flagship television news program from October 29, 1956 until July 31, 1970. It was anchored by Chet Huntley in New York City, and David Brinkley in Washington, DC. It succeeded the Camel News Caravan
, anchored by John Cameron Swayze. Producer Reuven Frank at NBC is credited with development of the show, and is generally credited with the idea of having two individuals anchor a news broadcast. Huntley, who had been based in Los Angeles, and Brinkley, in Washington, were first put together as a team to host coverage of the 1956 political conventions. When the time came to replace Swayze, there were arguments over whom to use. Frank, in his memoir, "Out of Thin Air," said he suggested the combination. Frank also authored the broadcast's closing line, "Good night, Chet." "Good night, David. And good night for NBC News." This exchange became one of television's most famous catchphrases, although both Huntley and Brinkley disliked it. Initially, the program struggled to attain viewership against its chief competition, the CBS Evening News
, anchored by Douglas Edwards, and directed by the legendary Don Hewitt. Texaco saved the program after its initial run by purchasing advertising on the program for an entire year. Huntley and Brinkley clicked as a team. Along with Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley is widely considered to have possessed one of the best broadcast voices ever heard. David Brinkley's dry, often witty, newswriting presented viewers a contrast to the often sober output from CBS News. The program soon had more viewers than the CBS Evening News, and maintained higher viewership levels throughout most of the 1960s. Huntley handled the bulk of the news most nights, with Brinkley specializing in Washington (i.e., the White House, U.S. Congress, the Pentagon) news. Having two anchors also helped during vacation periods; one could handle the full show if necessary, leaving viewers with a familiar anchor. The newscast stayed atop the ratings until Huntley's retirement in 1970, although it started to slip as CBS's Walter Cronkite gained fame for his coverage of the space program, a field neither Huntley nor Brinkley had much interest in. Some contemporary observers at NBC felt the program began to slip after a 1967 strike by members of AFTRA. Brinkley honored picket lines but Huntley, who viewed himself as "a newsman, not a performer" did not, remaining at the anchor desk. This split puzzled viewers, who had come to admire them for their chemistry together. Ironically, that relationship was fairly limited -- they were in different cities and rarely met in person, except for live coverage of events. However, they would hand off to each other by saying the other's name. Actually, that was a signal to technicians to switch the long-distance transmission lines, going from New York to Washington, in the other direction, so that the other anchor could be seen. Upon Huntley's retirement, the program was renamed NBC Nightly News
. At first, NBC decided to use a platoon of three anchors: Brinkley, John Chancellor, and Frank McGee. The arrangement, however, did not attract viewers, and after several months, John Chancellor was named solo anchor of the program. Brinkley made frequent reports and occasionally filled in for Chancellor. By the time NBC management settled the anchor situation, Walter Cronkite and the CBS Evening News had built a viewership lead which would last while Cronkite held the anchor desk until 1981. That same year, Brinkley jumped from NBC to rival ABC to host his own show This Week
, a spot he held until retirement in 1996.
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