Perkins began his longstanding journalism career at NBC News, serving as a reporter, correspondent and anchor for NBC Nightly News as well as the TODAY Show. Among his professional highlights was his live reporting of President John F. Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963.
After 25 years with NBC, Perkins retired in 1986 and moved to Casey Key, Florida. He went on to become a cable TV host for A&E's Biography Channel from 1994 to 1999 and continued his hosting duties for local PBS programs in Florida and Tennessee.
Still, despite his low-key work projects and life as a retiree, Perkins had strong criticisms and concerns about the changing face of journalism.
“I never called myself a journalist either; language got more grand as the craft itself eroded,” Perkins told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in 2009.
“I guess it’s how deliberately contentious it is, how politically biased and intemperate. It was always too quick to promote tales of the most bizarre and outrageous specimens, the aberrants of society; it is even more so now. I’m with Thoreau who thought that 'All news is, as it is called, is gossip.' But I’d go further: He seemed to suggest that as gossip, it was harmless. I believe that too often today’s 'journalism' corrodes the nation’s very soul.”
Perkins is survived by his only child, Eric, who is a sports director at a local NBC station in Minneapolis. Perkins' wife, Mary Jo, passed away earlier this year.