CelebVet: Charles Osgood, Broadcaster

Charles Osgood

Charles Osgood has been called "one of the last great broadcast writers" by the late Charles Kuralt. But few people know that he enjoyed early success as the official announcer of the U.S. Army Band (1956-1959). He later brought his classic storytelling style to illustrate experiences of World War II GIs.

Since 1994, Osgood has hosted CBS Sunday Morning, the popular 90-minute news broadcast. He also anchors and writes The Osgood Files-a popular nationwide broadcast aired daily on the CBS Radio Network.

The program has won him legions of listeners, and he is known as CBS Radio's "Poet-in-Residence". The radio broadcast earned him five of the Washington Journalism Review's Best in the Business Award as Best Radio Reporter. In 1997, The Osgood File received the "Connect America Recognition Award" from The Points of Light Foundation for its outstanding leadership in spreading messages of hope, affirmation, and connection.

He's also an accomplished best-selling author. In 2001, he wrote, Kilroy Was Here: The Best American Humor from World War II, the timing of which also brings a human side to the post 9/11 soldier. "It goes beyond funny - there's insight here. You get a sense of the character of the time. The GIs were kids, just 17, 18, 19 years old," he tells Publishers Weekly.

"A lot of this humor carries a certain kind of playfulness about it. It's that playfulness and naivete that we find so captivating now. Those people knew their lives were on the line, and they kept a very American attitude about them-a sort of "can do" attitude that needs to be remembered today," he added.

One such story includes this joke:

The company commander and the first sergeant were in the field for maneuvers. As they hit the sack for the night, the first sergeant said: "Sir, look up into the sky and tell me what you see."

"I see millions of stars," the commander replied.

The first sergeant asked, "What does that tell you, sir?"

The commander answered, "Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Theologically, it tells me that God is great and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you, Top?"

An accomplished musical performer who enjoys the piano and banjo, Osgood also sung in The Army Chorus in the years after the Korean War (1956-1959). "I remember when I first came to the organization, I was asked ‘What do you play?' and I told them ‘Mouth!' "

The Osgood Files is only one achievement in his nearly 40 years of broadcasting. In 1990, Osgood was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Throughout the years, he has received many honors, including the Marconi Radio Award (1993); the Lowell Thomas Electronic Journalism Award (1995) from the International Platform Association; the John Connor Humanitarian Service Award (1995) from Operation Smile; George Foster Peabody Awards (1985-86); and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers President's Award (1996) for his outstanding coverage and support of music creators over the years.

Other books by Osgood include: Nothing Could Be Finer Than A Crisis That Is Minor in the Morning (1979) and There is Nothing I Wouldn't Do If you Would Be My POSSLQ (1981) are compilations of some of his best radio broadcasts. Osgood on Speaking: How to Think On Your Feet Without Falling on Your Face (1988) is a tongue-in-cheek guide for public speaking, and The Osgood Files (1991) is a compilation of his newspaper columns syndicated by Tribune Media Services.

Osgood was born in 1933 in New York. He graduated from Fordham University in 1954 with a BS in Economics. He holds honorary doctorates from Fordham, St. John's University, St. Bonaventure University, Stonehill College, College of St. Rose, LeMoyne College, Trinity College, Colby College, Caldwell College, Fairleigh Dickenson University, and the College of Mount St. Vincent.

Osgood is an overseer of the board of Colby College. He also serves as a trustee of Fordham University, Operation Smile, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey and St. Bonaventure, and of the School for Strings, a music school in Manhattan. He says they never would have made him a trustee if they heard him play the piano or the five-string banjo, which he likes to do in his spare time. Nevertheless, he has performed with the Boston Pops and New York Pops Orchestras, as well as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Osgood lives in New Jersey with his wife and their five children. The National Father's Day Committee named him Father of the Year in 1985.

Image Credit: http://www.tvguide.com/news/charles-osgood-retiring-cbs-sunday-morning/

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