Good evening and welcome to Webster University. I am Benjamin Akande, Dean of the School of Business and Technology. I appreciate your coming out this evening to hear from a good friend and person who personifies the very essence of our speaker series – From Success to Significance.
When Russ Mitchell began his professional broadcasting career in 1982 fresh out of Mizzou’s esteemed journalism school, the world was a very different place . It was different in terms of politics and economics , technology, but also, and perhaps most importantly, in terms of communication. We lived in a world that was a little rounder and not as flat.
In the year 1982, Bryant Gumbel became co-host of NBC’s “Today Show.” It was also in 1982, the first issue of USA Today was published by Gannett. In 1982, sports legend Howard Cossell called his last fight. In 1982, Late Night with David Letterman debuted on NBC. And yet again in 1982, President Reagan –the great communicator—began his five-minute weekly radio broadcasts. And many of you will read that in 1982, Time Magazine’s man of the year was a computer.
T wenty four years ago, there were no Blackberrys, bloggers, RSS feeds, Wikis, podcasts, webinars , Razor phones, Sirius Radio, Tivo, streaming video, or the hallowed iPod. There were phone calls and memos and sit-down meetings. Likewise, there were no proliferations of 24-hour news stations with non-stop crawls, not to mention the “faux” newspapers and programs where young people today get their information from. 1982 was, in fact, the year in which the first reports of death from cyanide-laced Tylenol hit the news. Imagine the coverage that story would have received in today’s media environment .
I think you will agree that a lot has certainly changed in the way we communicate since 1982, which does not seem that very long ago to me, but then I may be dating myself [laughs] .
In our world today, the constant bombardment of communication that the average American receives on a daily basis is truly astounding —with little sign of a let up. And so this begs the question – what does this mean for you and me as consumers and creators of communication in the business world? It means that we have to always say things that matter. It means we have to be effective, authentic, and authoritative voices rising above the noise that surrounds us . It demands that we seek out and find communicators who recognize that communicating is much more than what is said but what is heard.
Russ Mitchell is one of these rare and trusted voices. He began his career with KNBC-TV in Kansas City in 1983 and then became an anchor for WFAA in Dallas. He returned to his hometown of St. Louis in 1985 as a reporter for KTVI. In 1987, Russ moved to KMOV, where he stayed on as an anchor until 19 92 when he joined CBS News as a correspondent for the CBS News Magazine Eye to Eye from 1 993-1995. He covered the 1996 presidential race and then in 1997 Russ was tapped as the co-anchor of the Saturday Early Show, which debuted that year. He has been with the show since and also serves as one of the main anchors of the CBS Evening News Saturday edition .
His broadcast excellence has earned him a number of professional awards, including a 1997 Emmy award for his coverage of the crash of TWA flight 800 and the 2002 James Beard award for the Saturday Early Show, to name just two.
Russ’ track record in this increasingly competitive and dynamic field is truly impressive, particularly given his modesty and humility. Russ has never forgotten where he came from and what high school he attended – Webster Groves High. In fact, it’s his past that has illuminated his path to success.
And so it’s with great pleasure that I introduce to you this evening, one of Webster Groves’ own, and my old friend Mr. Russ Mitchell.
"I believe that the future belongs to those that can see it. "
- Dr. Benjamin Akande
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