Wood, Charles Osgood, III 1933-
WOOD, Charles Osgood, III 1933-
Born January 8, 1933, in New York, NY; son of Charles (a salesman) and Mary F. (Wilson) Wood; married second wife, Jean Crafton, December 5, 1973; children: Kathleen, Winston, Anne Elizabeth, Emily Jean, James Edward. Education: Fordham University, B.S. (economics), 1954. Hobbies and other interests: Playing piano.
WGMS-Radio, Bethesda, MD, program director, 1963; WHCT-TV, Hartford, CT, general manager, 1963-64; American Broadcasting Company (ABC-Radio), news reporter, 1964-67; WCBS-TV, New York, NY, anchor and reporter, 1967-71; CBS News, New York, radio and television correspondent, 1971—; CBS Morning News, coanchor, c. 1980-92; CBS Sunday Night News, anchor, 1981-87; host, "Newsbreak," "The Osgood File," CBS-Radio, 1981—, and Sunday Morning, CBS, 1994—. Fordham University, and School of Strings, Manhattan, New York, Trustee; Colby College, Waterville, ME, overseer. Military service: U.S. Army, 1955-58.
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Radio and Television News Analysts.
Silurian Award for excellence in journalism, 1968; Father of the Year Award, National Father's Day Committee, 1985; Peabody Awards, 1985 and 1986, both for weekly CBS Radio broadcast Newsmark, and 1997, for Sunday Morning; named "Best in the Business," Washington Journalism Review, 1988-92, for best radio reporter for The Osgood File; inducted into National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, 1990, and into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame, 2000; Marconi Radio Award, 1993, for best syndicated network personality of the year; Lowell Thomas Electronic Journalism Award, International Platform Association, 1995; President's Award, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, 1996, for outstanding coverage and support of music creators; Emmy Award, 1997, for interview with Andrew Wyeth, and two other Emmy Awards; International Radio and Television Society Award for Significant Achievement, 1999; Radio Mercury Award, 1999. Honorary doctorates from St. John's University School of Law, Stonehill College, College of St. Rose, LeMoyne College, St. Peter's College, College of Mount St. Vincent, Trinity College, Iona College, Caldwell College, Fairleigh Dickenson University, and Franklin and Marshall College; honorary degrees from Fordham University and St. Bonaventure University, 1977.
UNDER NAME CHARLES OSGOOD
Nothing Could Be Finer than a Crisis that Is Minor in the Morning, Holt (New York, NY), 1979.
There's Nothing that I Wouldn't Do If You Would Be My POSSLQ, Holt (New York, NY), 1981.
Osgood on Speaking: How to Think on Your Feet without Falling on Your Face, Morrow (New York, NY), 1988.
The Osgood Files, Putnam (New York, NY), 1991.
See You on the Radio, Putnam (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor and author of introduction) Kilroy Was Here: The Best American Humor from World War II, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor) Funny Letters from Famous People, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Defending Baltimore against Enemy Attack: A Boyhood Year during World War II, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.
Author of introduction, Poetry Speaks: Hear Great Poets Read Their Works from Tennyson to Plath, edited by Elise Paschen and Rebekah Mosby, Sourcebooks. Lyricist of more than two dozen songs, including "Black Is Beautiful," recorded by Nancy Wilson, and (with John Cacavas) "Gallant Men," recorded by Everett Dirksen.
The Osgood Files and See You on the Road have been adapted as audio recordings.
"My stuff isn't poetry," Charles Osgood Wood, III—who is better known by the name Charles Osgood—told People reporter Gioia Diliberto. "It's just rampant doggerel." Osgood was referring to the rhyming verses that inform and often amuse the nearly 2.5 million Americans who tune in "Newsbreak," Osgood's CBS-Radio spot, which airs six mornings each week. Although sometimes covering tragic events and crucial issues, Osgood prefers to share the lighter side of the news—as indicated in the title of his book Nothing Could Be Finer than a Crisis that Is Minor in the Morning—or to reflect on the pressing problems that plague every man, such as socks that vanish in the wash. Newsweek 's Betsy Carter quoted Osgood: "Before I choose a piece it has to touch me in some way. It has to be something that either makes me want to laugh or cry, and when I write the piece, I try not to strain out the motions." He also recorded his view in rhyme: "If you're going to talk about sadness and crime, / I say sweetness and light ought to get equal time. / Enough of the clouds and your mourning and whining! / Let's have a bit of the old silver lining! / We've all really had it with trouble and woe. / And if those things exist, why, we don't want to know."
Formerly the station manager of the first U.S. pay television station (WHCT in Hartford, Connecticut), Osgood was a reporter for ABC-Radio news and a television anchorman before joining CBS in 1972. Although primarily a radio correspondent, Osgood headlined the "Sunday Night News," appeared regularly on the television program "Universe," and has hosted documentaries for CBS-TV. Still, he maintains that he prefers radio to television. As a child he was an avid radio buff, and during his stint in the army he worked in announcing booths as often as possible and served as the announcer for the U.S. Army Band.
Osgood's "Newsbreak" poems have been collected in two volumes, Nothing Could Be Finer than a Crisis that Is Minor in the Morning and There's Nothing that I Wouldn't Do If You Would Be My POSSLQ. Of the former, New York Times Book Review contributor Jeff Greenfield wrote: "Although his sweet voice may be part of the spell / That he weaves, these pieces do hold up quite well." The latter's title is taken from a verse inspired by the U.S. Census Bureau's acronym for Person of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters: "You live with me, and I with you / And you will be my POSSLQ. / I'll be your friend and so much more; / That's what a POSSLQ is for."
Despite Osgood's lighthearted slant on the news and his unique reporting style, the correspondent wishes to be thought of as a serious journalist, not as, according to Diliberto, "the Ogden Nash of the airwaves." He told the People reporter: "I like to keep my humorous pieces on a high level. If I started wearing hats, acting goofy and doing 'Let's see if I can ride this pony' kind of stuff, I'd really make a fool of myself." Indeed, Osgood, who has won three Emmy Awards and three Peabodys, takes his work seriously, painstakingly compiling and composing material each day for his two radio segments, the early morning "Newsbreak" and the later broadcast "Osgood File." The task is a challenging one, for as Osgood explains, "I have to express myself much more often than I have something to express." A number of his programs from his radio show are collected in The Osgood Files, published in 1991. Here he mixes humorous observations on life with more serious pieces that discuss such subjects as Communism and poverty. Also adapted as an audio recording read by the author, the collection received positive reviews, including from Melinda Stivers Leach, who deemed it "witty, insightful, and thought-provoking" in a Library Journal review.
Osgood repeated this performance a few years later with the collection See You on the Radio, which is a mish-mash of essays and anecdotes on everything from stories about bungled crimes and a chaotic beauty contest that turns into a brawl to serious pieces on the state of education and violence in America. Sprinkled amongst these stories are Osgood's signature verses. Booklist contributors Mary Carroll and Gilbert Taylor judged this collection to be a "light, but entertaining" offering. A Publishers Weekly critic felt that the essays lose something when not heard on the radio, but added that "those that contain verse remain Osgood's best and most memorable work."
Osgood has also released two books that hearken back to the days of World War II. The first of which, Kilroy Was Here: The Best American Humor from World War II, is an edited collection of humor drawn from such sources as Stars & Stripes and cartoons and memoirs from the period. The autobiographical Defending Baltimore against Enemy Attack: A Boyhood Year during World War II, is the second. In Kilroy Was Here Osgood explores the way humor was used to lift morale among Americans in a time of war. A Publishers Weekly critic, noting that the editor neglects the work of Yank writer Dave Breger and only includes one "Sad Sack" cartoon by George Baker, felt that the selection is somewhat haphazard; yet the reviewer acknowledged that the "book makes good on its effort to remind readers that humor was one of the leading boosters to troop's morale and deserves recognition." Arion Berger, writing in Biography also felt the collection is somewhat flawed, commenting that it contains too many "tepid anecdotes," but adding that the soldiers' reminiscences included here are the "best pieces." Library Journal reviewer David Alperstein was much more positive, stating that Kilroy Was Here includes a "hilarious assortment" of different types of humor from the 1940s.
The mix of humorous anecdotes with occasionally serious observations that characterize much of what Osgood has written is also present in his Defending Baltimore against Enemy Attack in which he reflects on the year he was nine and living in Maryland just as World War II was beginning for America in 1942. Osgood's reminiscences offer readers a look into a very different time with very different attitudes that he often compares and contrasts with those of modern America. It was a time, he avers, when Americans, young and old, were much more patriotic, less cynical, and more concerned about getting a good education than in being politically correct; sons respected their fathers, and mothers did not fret that their children had bipolar disorders or attention deficit syndrome. Osgood recalls being glued to the radio, anxious to learn about events in Europe and the Pacific, becoming inspired by the famous broadcasters of the day, and enjoying radio serials. When not in school or listening to the radio, he would play impromptu baseball games with the other kids or track Japanese and German movement using pins on a map. Many reviewers noted the rosy-hued character of this autobiography, which paints a "bona fide paradise," according to one Publishers Weekly writer, and does so unapologetically. Although also tinged with a sense of dread as families set up blackout shades, raised victory gardens, and collected oil drippings and scrap metal for the war effort, the overall picture remains that of a "warm, humorous look at the nation at war from a boy's perspective," as Vanessa Bush described it in her Booklist review.
Acknowledging that life can often be unpredictable and tragic, Osgood deplores the state of news reporting today, which seems to emphasize the worst aspects of the modern-day world. "I hate the 'news you can use' idea," he was quoted as saying online in an American Profile article by Beverly Keel about his work on the television program Sunday Morning. "Sometimes it can be useful, but sometimes it's just emotionally useful. It's heartwarming or inspiring. It pleases you to know that there's goodness in the world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, April 5, 2004, Peter Heinegg, "The Charlie Wood Files."
American Heritage, July, 2001, "Editor's Bookshelf," p. 16.
Biography, June, 2001, Arion Berger, "Biography Reviews: Books."
Booklist, October 1, 1999, Mary Carroll and Gilbert Taylor, review of See You on the Road, p. 338; June 1, 2000, Whitney Scott, review of See You on the Road, p. 1925; March 1, 2004, Vanessa Bush, review of Defending Baltimore against Enemy Attack: A Boyhood Year during World War II, p. 1099.
Christian Herald, July-August, 1980, review of Nothing Could Be Finer than a Crisis that Is Minor in the Morning, p. 60.
Entertainment Weekly, May 14, 2004, Jeff Labrecque, "Sunday Morning Host Smackdown!," p. 75.
High Technology Business, October, 1988, Mark J. Estren, "Osgood on Speaking," p. 14.
Library Journal, February 1, 1991, Melinda Stivers Leach, review of The Osgood Files, p. 85; August 1, 1991, J. Rozgonyi and M. Annichiarico, review of The Osgood Files sound recording, p. 161; March 1, 2000, Gordon Blackwell, review of See You on the Road, p. 141; May 1, 2001, David Alperstein, review of Kilroy Was Here: The Best American Humor from World War II, p. 106; June 1, 2003, Audrey Snowden, review of Funny Letters from Famous People, p. 119.
Newsweek, January 7, 1980, Betsy Carter, "A Life of Rhyme," p. 66.
New York Times Book Review, September 7, 1980, Jeff Greenfield, review of Nothing Could Be Finer than a Crisis that Is Minor in the Morning, p. 43; January 27, 2002, Tan Lin, "Books in Brief: Nonfiction," Section 7, p. 20.
People, November 2, 1981, Gioia Diliberto, "It's Charles Osgood All the Time for All the News that's Fit to Rhyme," p. 129.
Publishers Weekly, July 24, 1981, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of There's Nothing that I Wouldn't Do If You Would Be My POSSLQ, p. 140; September 20, 1999, review of See You on the Road, p. 60; May 21, 2001, Lynn Andriani and Jeff Zaleski, "PW Talks with Charles Osgood," and review of Kilroy Was Here, p. 91; February 24, 2003, review of Funny Letters from Famous People, p. 64; March 22, 2004, review of Defending Baltimore against Enemy Attack, p. 71.
TV Guide, August 20, 1983, Don Kowet, "Where There's Reason to the Rhyme, It Must Be Charlie Osgood Time," p. 26.
Variety, June 24, 1981, "Walter Cronkite's Universe," p. 54; June 23, 1982, Bob Knight, "Dark Horse Osgood Making Strides," p. 54.
Wilson Quarterly, winter, 2002, Honor Moore, "The Poet's Voice," p. 107.
American Profile Web site,http://www.americanprofile.com/ (June 3, 2004), Beverly Keel, "All's Good with Osgood."
Eve's Magazine Web site,http://www.evesmag.com/ (June 3, 2004), Eve Berliner, biography of Charles Osgood.
NPR Radio, Morning Edition,http://www.npr.org/ (April 30, 2004), "Interview: Charles Osgood Discusses His Book Defending Baltimore against Enemy Attack: A Boyhood Year during World War II.
" Royce Carlton, Inc. Web site,http://www.roycecarlton.com/ (June 3, 2004), biography of Charles Osgood.*