Thursday, December 08, 2022

Jim Hertz, ‘Today’ show host and Channel 4 anchor, 82. but die

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Jim Hertz, co-host of NBC’s “Today” show for two years in the mid-1970s, who was also a local news anchor in New York and Washington, died on April 17 at a hospital in Fairfax County. He was 82 years old.

The cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said his wife, Alexandra Dixon Hertz.

An old-school newscaster with a deep voice that hinted at his native Oklahoma, Mr. Hartz became one of the youngest local news anchors in the country when he joined New York’s WNBC-TV in 1964, when He was 24 years old.

In New York, Mr. Hertz helped make WNBC’s 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. programs the top-rated newscast in the city. Broadcasting from the same building that housed NBC News’ national headquarters, he earned a reputation as a trusted news reader and on-the-scenes reporter and attracted the attention of network executives.

In addition to local news, Mr. Hertz covered national politics, went abroad to report on the 1973 Arab–Israeli War, and was particularly known for his reporting on science and the space program. From 1966 to 1976, he helped with NBC’s space coverage, including the Apollo launch that took the first astronauts to the Moon.

His mentor at NBC News was Frank McGee, a veteran reporter and fellow Oklahoman who was the host of the “Today” show from 1971 until his death from bone cancer in 1974. That’s when Mr Hartz was chosen to succeed McGee as co-host. Today” with Barbara Walters, he reportedly beat Tom Brokaw and Tom Snyder for the job.

He handled a mix of difficult news and entertainment stories, often sharing the screen with NBC mainstay Joe Garagiola and the program’s longtime film critic Gene Shalit. Mr Hertz once had a trial interview with former Vice President Spiro Agnew, who complained about the news media’s coverage of Israel being “sympathetic to Zionism”.

Mr. Hertz often said that his favorite assignment on “Today” was a series of trips to all 50 states in the months leading up to the American Bicentenary of 1976.

“It’s one of those things you don’t forget,” he said in 2012. “It was a chance to see the country almost like a snapshot.”

In June 1976, Walters left the “Today” show, and as NBC executives reconfigured the program, Mr. Hartz was soon replaced as host by Brokaw. He stayed for several months in a lesser role as a rotating correspondent.

“The show was glamorous on the outside, but on the inside it’s the hardest thing,” Mr Hertz told Tulsa World in 2001. “It turned my life inside out.”

In 1977, he came to Washington as a co-anchor with Jim Vance for the 6 pm and 11 pm newscasts on the NBC-owned WRC-TV (Channel 4). He was reportedly paid $200,000 per year, the highest salary of any local newscaster at the time.

Washington’s longest-serving local news anchor Jim Vance is 75. died at the age of

After two years, WRC-TV brought in Gordon Peterson from competing station Channel 9 (then known as WDVM), and Mr. Hartz’s contract was not renewed.

He later became a co-host with Broadway star Mary Martin of “Over Easy”, a PBS program about aging that began in San Francisco and featured interviews with celebrities such as comedian Bob Hope and actress Jane Fonda. . In the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Hertz had a long stint as host of the PBS science program “Innovation” and appeared on other shows, including a joint PBS broadcast with a Japanese network about Asian news.

In the late 1990s, Mr. Hertz served as a visiting scholar at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He became particularly interested in how to increase the scientific literacy of the general public.

He collaborated with NASA scientist Rick Chappelle on a book, “Worlds Apart,” that aimed to bridge the gap between scientists and journalists. The authors stated that misunderstandings on both sides threatened the scientific superiority of the United States.

“Apart from scientists who do not speak English and journalists who do not speak science,” Mr Hertz and Chappelle wrote, “there are uncertain gatekeepers – editors who decide which stories will be published or produced – and a public is not equipped with an understanding of the nuances and importance of scientific development. Given these circumstances, it is not surprising that the popular support that science used to receive is now eroding.”

James LeRoy Hartz was born on February 3, 1940 in Tulsa. His father was the House of God pastor, and his mother was a housewife.

He took premedicine courses at the University of Tulsa and began working in radio to help pay his tuition. He was an announcer on two radio stations before leaving college and became a television reporter for KOTV, the Tulsa affiliate of CBS. An NBC producer saw him on the air and hired him for the network’s station in New York.

“When NBC recruited me from news director at KOTV three decades ago, I moved to New York,” he said in 1994. The world became my news: combat, space shots, presidential visits to the Middle East.

His marriage to Norma Tandy ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of 42 years, former Alexandra Dixon of Alexandria, Va.; two daughters from his first marriage, Jana Hertz Maher of Colorado Springs and Nancy Hertz Cole of Reston, Va.; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. One son from his first marriage, John M. Hertz died in 2015.

In addition to broadcasting, Mr. Hertz had a public relations consulting business and contributed articles to National Geographic and other publications. He won five Emmy Awards throughout his career and retired in his mid-60s.

He said the two most important qualities required of a TV journalist were the ability to make long-term ad-related commentary and “a strong bladder”.

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