Jim McKay

Sports Broadcaster


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly three-hour interview, Jim McKay (1921-2008) talks about starting his career in 1947 at WMAR-TV in Baltimore. He discusses going on to work with producer Roone Arledge at the beginning of ABC's Wide World of Sports, staying nearly four decades with the job as the show's host and commentator. McKay speaks about hosting the network's coverage of the Olympics for over 30 years, including his critical coverage of the terrorist hostages and killings that interrupted the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Gerry Sandusky conducted the interview on October 28, 1998 in Monkton, MD.

All views expressed by interviewees are theirs alone and not necessarily those of the Television Academy.

"We were going to tape the voiceover in the studio and Roone Arledge says, 'I think that opening stinks.' I said, 'I do, too.'  So we went into an engineer's room with a bunch of equipment and we sat down and put some words together, not knowing they would still be heard years later, about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Jim McKay on the studio and the kinds of acts he hosted on The Real McCay
02:34
Jim McKay on the philosophy behind ABC's Wide World of Sports
01:58
Jim McKay on the Israeli hostage crisis during the 1972 Munich Olympics
18:38
Jim McKay on his interview with Fidel Castro and on the Cuban Missile Crisis
03:58
Jim McKay on fellow broadcaster Howard Cosell
00:58
Jim McKay on his friendship with writer Paddy Chayevsky
02:36
Full Interview

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Chapter 1

On his early childhood and influences; his early interest in sports; on his early interest in performing and announcing
On his experience of World War II; on going to work for the newspaper the Baltimore Sun
On his earliest experiences of television; on his first time on the air broadcasting horse races from Pimlico; on advice he got from Arthur Godrey

Chapter 2

On hosting National Sports Parade; on changing his name for broadcasting, and hosting the local New York series The Real McKay; on the studio and the kinds of acts he hosted on The Real McCay
On the cancellation of The Real McCay, and on his transitioning into sports at the behest of Roone Arledge at Wide World of Sports ; on working with Walter Cronkite on The Morning Show on CBS as the sports guy
On hosting The Verdict is Yours; on hosting the Summer Olympics on CBS

Chapter 3

On broadcasting from the first foreign Olympics to be televised in the United States, the 1960 Summer Games in Rome and on interviewing Cassius Clay; on why he wanted to do ABC's Wide World of Sports and impressions of the producer Roone Arledge; on the philosophy behind ABC's Wide World of Sports
On how broadcasting from Moscow helped keep ABC's Wide World of Sports on the air; on the opening for ABC's Wide World of Sports and how it changed; on the small staff on ABC's Wide World of Sports when they went on-air
On how Roone Arledge was hired to ABC's Wide World of Sports and how they hired different commentators; on covering Demolition Derbys on ABC's Wide World of Sports;
On how technology changed things for sports television: tape versus live TV in auto-racing on ABC's Wide World of Sports; on winning an Emmy for ABC's Wide World of Sports in 1968

Chapter 4

On how CBS handled coverage of the 1964 Olympics; on the first time TV was used to decide an event; the 1968 Olympics
On the Israeli hostage crisis during the 1972 Munich Olympics

Chapter 5

On reporting on the Olympics following the tragedy of the 1972 Games; on the influence of women on the Olympics; on Dorothy Hamill and other Olympic stars
On the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles; how the coverage has changed; on ABC's Wide World of Sports after Roone Arledge left the show; on the role television has played in Sports history and what sports get coverage
On sponsorship and the changes in sports and athleticism; on television's impact on sports; on interviewing Fidel Castro

Chapter 6

On various people he worked with during his career, including Dick Swift, Walter Cronkite, Paddy Chayevsky, Howard Cosell, and Roone Arledge; on his son and his wife
Shows

ABC's Wide World of Sports

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Jim McKay on the cancellation of The Real McCay, and on his transitioning into sports at the behest of Roone Arledge at Wide World of Sports
02:57
Jim McKay on why he wanted to do ABC's Wide World of Sports and impressions of the producer Roone Arledge
07:31
Jim McKay on the philosophy behind ABC's Wide World of Sports "if you can get them interested in individuals, you can get them interested in the sport"
01:58
Jim McKay on how broadcasting from Moscow helped keep ABC's Wide World of Sports on the air
03:23
Jim McKay on the opening for ABC's Wide World of Sports and how it changed
01:36
Jim McKay on the small staff on ABC's Wide World of Sports when they went on-air: Chet Simmons, Roone Arledge, and Ed Scherick
01:32
On how Roone Arledge was hired to ABC's Wide World of Sports and how they hired different commentators
03:32
Jim McKay on covering Demolition Derbys on ABC's Wide World of Sports
01:33
Jim McKay on how technology changed things for sports television: tape versus live TV in auto-racing on ABC's Wide World of Sports
02:06
Jim McKay on winning an Emmy forABC's Wide World of Sports in 1968
04:02
Jim McKay on ABC's Wide World of Sports after Roone Arledge's departure
02:08
Jim McKay on how cable television negatively impacted ABC's Wide World of Sports
00:56

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Jim McKay on winning an Emmy for ABC's Wide World of Sports in 1968
04:02

Morning Show, The

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Jim McKay on working with Walter Cronkite on The Morning Show on CBS as the sports guy
05:25

Olympics

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Jim McKay on hosting the Summer Olympics on CBS
03:14
Jim McKay on broadcasting from the first foreign Olympics to be televised in the United States, the 1960 Summer Games in Rome and on interviewing Cassius Clay
03:07
Jim McKay on how CBS handled coverage of the 1964 Olympics
07:30
Jim McKay on the first time TV was used to decide an event; the 1968 Olympics
02:44
Jim McKay on the Israeli hostage crisis during the 1972 Munich Olympics
18:38
Jim McKay on how the Olympic Games have changed since 1972 and on Dorothy Hamill
14:57
Jim McKay on how the Olympic Games coverage has changed; the 1984 Games in Los Angeles
03:05
Topics

'The Idiot Box'

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Jim McKay on the challenge for TV to fill thousands of hours with quality programming
00:35

Cold War

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Jim McKay on his interview with Fidel Castro and on the Cuban Missile Crisis
03:58

Criticism of TV

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Jim McKay on the challenge for TV to fill thousands of hours with quality programming
00:35

Emmy Awards

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Jim McKay on winning an Emmy for ABC's Wide World of Sports in 1968
04:02

Historic Events and Social Change

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Jim McKay on his experience of World War II
03:37
Jim McKay on his interview with Fidel Castro and on the Cuban Missile Crisis
03:58

Memorable Moments on Television

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Jim McKay on the Israeli hostage crisis during the 1972 Munich Olympics
20:52

Olympic Games

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Jim McKay on the Israeli hostage crisis during the 1972 Munich Olympics
20:52

Sports

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Jim McKay on the Israeli hostage crisis during the 1972 Munich Olympics
20:52

Technological Innovation

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Jim McKay on hosting The Verdict is Yours which benefited from the advent of videotape
03:34
Jim McKay on how technology changed things for sports television: tape versus live TV in auto-racing

Television Industry

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Jim McKay on the challenge for TV to fill thousands of hours with quality programming
00:35

War

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Jim McKay on his experience of World War II
03:37
Jim McKay on his interview with Fidel Castro and on the Cuban Missile Crisis
03:58

We Cried

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Jim McKay on the Israeli hostage crisis during the 1972 Munich Olympics
20:52

World War II

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Jim McKay on his experience of World War II
03:37
Professions

Announcer

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Jim McKay on advice he got from Arthur Godfrey

Hosts

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Jim McKay on advice he got from Arthur Godfrey
Genres

Sports

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Jim McKay on hosting the Summer Olympics on CBS, which initially were ad-libbed
03:14
Jim McKay on ABC's Wide World of Sports
27:13
Jim McKay on co-hosting the Olympics
31:06
Jim McKay on the transformative role of television in sports history and coverage
02:27
Jim McKay on what has changed most in television and sports tv, and among the athletes themselves
02:06
Jim McKay on covering the Olympics
18:02
Jim McKay on ABC's Wide World of Sports
07:37
People

Muhammad Ali

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Jim McKay on broadcasting from the first foreign Olympics to be televised in the United States, the 1960 Summer Games in Rome and on interviewing Cassius Clay (Muhammed Ali)
01:06

Roone Arledge

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Jim McKay on the cancellation of The Real McCay, and on his transitioning into sports at the behest of Roone Arledge at Wide World of Sports
02:57
Jim McKay on why he wanted to do ABC's Wide World of Sports and impressions of the producer Roone Arledge
07:51
Jim McKay on the talents of producer Roone Arledge
01:31

Fidel Castro

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Jim McKay on his most memorable interview with Fidel Castro
03:58

Paddy Chayefsky

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Jim McKay on his friendship with writer Paddy Chayevsky
02:36

Howard Cosell

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Jim McKay on fellow broadcaster Howard Cosell
00:58

Walter Cronkite

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Jim McKay on working with Walter Cronkite on The Morning Show on CBS as the sports guy
05:22
Jim McKay on his long friendship with Walter Cronkite
00:39

Arthur Godfrey

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Jim McKay on advice he got from Arthur Godfrey
03:46

Dorothy Hamill

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Jim McKay on how the Olympic Games have changed since 1972 and on Dorothy Hamill
14:57

Chet Simmons

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Jim McKay on the small staff on ABC's Wide World of Sports when they went on-air: Chet Simmons, Roone Arledge, and Ed Scherick
01:32

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