Monday, July 20, 2009

Cronkite shills for Columbia Records

Walter Cronkite was known as a news reader and reporter, rather than commentator. We also have a record of him flacking for Columbia Records in 1958. It's on an album produced by the Columbia Records Public Relations Department, called "Hear It Now On LP: The Story of the First LP Decade on Columbia Records."

Having invented the Long Playing record, Columbia celebrated its 10th anniversary with this mighty 33 1/3 rpm disc, by making this narrative anthology hosted by another inventor, the "inventor" of the news anchor, Walter Cronkite. The 12-in. record album contains popular and classical excerpts from 1948's Oscar Levant performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (Ormandy and Philadelphia Orchestra), all the way to 1957's Firebird Suite (Stravinsky) conducted by Leonard Bernstein with the New York Philharmonic.

This record was likely given out in limited quantities and never issued to the general public. It also includes the popular side of Columbia, from the earliest original cast albums of "Kiss Me, Kate" and "South Pacific" down to 1957 and the then-current stable of artists such as Johnny Mathis, Ray Conniff, Les Elgart and Erroll Garner. Cronkite's classic reading of the continuity script has the familiar ring of history in the making.

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