Sig Mickelson, a broadcasting pioneer often referred to as "the man who invented TV news," was born on May 24, 1913. In 1943, he landed a job at CBS News and quickly rose through the ranks. He became the first director of CBS television news and was credited for hiring such journalists as Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Charles Kuralt. Mickelson also coined the term "anchorman" during the watershed 1952 summer political conventions, the first time a TV news station ever provided "gavel to gavel" coverage of such an event. Over the next two decades, Mickelson would add many industry firsts to his list of accomplishments, and continued to serve in high-profile positions including VP of Time-Life Broadcast Inc., and President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Mickelson came to the SDSU campus for three years (1979-1981). He served in two capacities: as the Executive Director for SDSU's Center for Communications, and as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism in the Department of Telecommunications and Film. Mickelson died on March 24, 2000 at the age of 86.
1979 interview with Sig Mickelson, Executive Director, SDSU Center for Communications, and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism, 1979-1981.
In this interview totaling 4 hours and 23 minutes, Mickelson describes his early broadcasting jobs, including at WCCO in Minneapolis where he produced a series of programs on racial prejudice in the community which gave the station national attention. He talks about the stories behind the first ever transcontinental TV program in September 1951 and the landmark 1952 political conventions. He discusses re-creating dramatic scenes for television and the ethical issues and policies involved. Mickelson also discusses the relationship between CBS News and the White House, dating back to President Truman, as well as the technology involved with covering President Eisenhower's trips abroad in 1958 and 1959. He continues to describe his work at TIME, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and Radio Free Europe. Mickelson concludes this epic interview with his thoughts on the greatest contributions broadcast journalism has made in this country, and the mix of politics and broadcasting.
Interviewed by Elizabeth Heighton on 3/13/1979.
Image credit: Sig Mickelson in 1989, University Archives Photograph Collection, Special Collections & University Archives.