Saturday, May 14, 2022

R.I.P.: Richard Wald, Veteran TV News Executive for ABC and NBC

Richard Wald
Richard Wald, a longtime journalist and TV executive who guided the programs and anchors that helped shape network news over several decades, died Friday at 92, The L-A Times is reporting.

Wald suffered a massive stroke Sunday night.

Wald was a print journalist who moved into television in the 1970s. He spent the bulk of this TV career at ABC News working alongside the division’s high-profile chief Roone Arledge. Together they transformed ABC News from also-ran status to being the dominant player in TV news through the 1980s and 1990s.

During Wald’s ABC run from 1977 to 1999, Peter Jennings emerged as the most-watched evening news anchor and the network’s special event coverage regularly topped the competition in the Nielsen ratings.

The network also launched two popular newsmagazine shows during the period, “20/20,” which still airs Friday nights, and “PrimeTime Live,” and poached a number of major TV news stars, including David Brinkley from NBC and Diane Sawyer from CBS.

Previous to his ABC years, Wald was president of NBC News where he managed a key transition for the network’s morning franchise “Today.” Wald hired a 24-year-old Jane Pauley to replace Barbara Walters, who had departed for ABC, and paired her with Tom Brokaw, then an up-and-coming Washington correspondent.

At ABC News, Wald oversaw the launch of “Nightline,” the nightly news program first anchored by Ted Koppel. The program, which Wald named, evolved out of ABC’s nightly special reports on the capture of 66 American citizens at the U.S. Embassy in Iran by militants. “Nightline” was the first expansion of nightly news programming by any network since evening newscasts went from 15 minutes to a half-hour in the early 1960s.

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