Sig Mickelson

News Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his five-hour Archive interview, Sig Mickelson (1913–2000) talks about his long career as an executive with CBS News, which culminated with his appointment as the network's first News President (1959-61). He describes his association with the political conventions from 1948 through 1964, at first as a reporter (1948), then as senior executive in charge of the conventions (1952, 1956, 1960), and finally after retiring from CBS, as Executive Program Director for the Republican National Convention in San Francisco (1964). Mickelson recalls hiring Walter Cronkite for the 1952 conventions and assigning him the role as anchorman, a term he is credited with coining. He describes the way in which footage was collected for the nightly news, documentaries and public affairs programs and describes news series including See It Now, Face the Nation, and CBS Reports. He discusses how CBS covered the Japanese Peace Conference (the first time the coaxial cable was used), the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, President Eisenhower's press conferences, the Kennedy-Nixon presidential debates, and the 1960 Olympic Games. Don Carleton conducted the two-part interview on August 24 and August 25, 1999 in San Diego, CA.

"I'd like to be remembered as a person who took a very serious view of what television is doing. I tried, by every process possible, to improve the coverage. I knew devices, knew processes, knew electronic systems for delivering the information to the public, and through the process of combining the materials, the personnel, and the process of broadcasting, made it possible for the public to have a more intense idea of what's happening in its society."

Highlights
Sig Mickelson on organizing the details of the Kennedy-Nixon Debates
03:46
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of election night in 1952 and on the use of the Univac computer
07:11
Sig Mickelson on the technological challenges of CBS News covering Queen Elizabeth's coronation and the innovations it helped bring about
14:16
Sig Mickelson on CBS News documentaries and on the birth of See It Now, hosted by Edward R. Murrow
08:57
Sig Mickelson on the blacklisting of CBS News correspondent Winston Burdett
04:33
Sig Mickelson on how he'd like to be remembered
01:03
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on the first time he saw television
On going to work at radio station WCCO in Minnesota; on covering the 1948 political conventions and campaigns as a reporter

Chapter 2

On going to work at CBS News as Director of Public Affairs and Sports; on working with William S. Paley and Frank Stanton at CBS News; on the shows he oversaw as the Director of Public Affairs and Sports at CBS News
On the CBS Evening News with Douglas Edwards; on the difference between CBS News on radio and CBS News on television in the 1940s and 1950s, and on the film they would run on television; on CBS News' coverage of the Korean War
On CBS News documentaries; on the birth of See It Now, hosted by Edward R. Murrow

Chapter 3

On the CBS News series Diplomatic Pouch; on CBS News' coverage of the Japanese Peace Conference, which included Walter Cronkite
On his involvement with Walter Cronkite; on the role affiliates played in the early years of CBS News, and on reporting to Hubbell Robinson while dealing with the split between CBS News radio and television; on covering the 1952 presidential election

Chapter 4

On CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions; on Walter Cronkite anchoring CBS News' coverage of the conventions and on inventing the term "anchorman"; on the innovations and impact of CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions
On the concept of "gavel-to-gavel coverage" first introduced by CBS News for the 1952 political conventions; on Don Hewitt and Bill Leonard's roles during CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions; on candid moments from the 1952 political conventions and on how CBS' coverage differed from NBC or ABC, and on CBS Radio's coverage

Chapter 5

On CBS News' coverage of election night in 1952 and on the use of the Univac computer; on CBS News' relationship with Dwight D. Eisenhower and press secretary James Hagerty
On a dust up between CBS News and the Eisenhower White House over a scheduled interview with then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
On CBS News' coverage of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the technology associated with the broadcast

Chapter 6

On the technological challenges of CBS News covering Queen Elizabeth's coronation and the innovations it helped bring about
On his progression to becoming President of CBS News; on Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow at CBS News; on his experiences with the Hollywood Blacklist at CBS News

Chapter 7

On the different networks' coverage of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and on Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow's roles in the coverage; on the blacklisting of CBS News correspondent Winston Burdett; on the atmosphere at CBS News during the period of the Hollywood Blacklist, and his memories of the time
On the publication "Red Channels." and on the Hollywood Blacklist; on signing a loyalty oath for CBS News and on other issues connected with the Red Scare
On his role in the development of sports programming in the early years of CBS television

Chapter 8

On the impact of the advent of video tape on CBS News and sports; on CBS's coverage of the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley; on Walter Cronkite anchoring the 1960 Winter Olympics from Squaw Valley, and on technical difficulties during the show
On CBS News' coverage of the 1960 political conventions anchored by Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, and on their different styles; on the impact of videotape on CBS News' coverage of the 1960 political conventions
On organizing the details of the Kennedy-Nixon Debates; on selecting Howard K. Smith as the moderator of the first of the Kennedy-Nixon Debates; on his reaction to the Kennedy-Nixon Debates, and on talking with Richard M. Nixon

Chapter 9

On the growing importance of presidential debates after 1960, and on the presidency of John F. Kennedy and how he handled television as opposed to Richard Nixon; on his departure from CBS News; on going to work at "Time Magazine," and on his involvement with the 1964 Republican National Convention
On bringing Harry Reasoner to CBS News; on the duty of broadcast news to be objective, and on the public perception of broadcast news' integrity; on television's impact on the political process in the United States; on journalists having a professional code of ethics
On how technological innovation has changed the way news events are covered by networks, and on the government's role in regulating the broadcast industry; on how he'd like to be remembered

Chapter 10

Sig Mickelson on various people with whom he worked in his career
Shows

CBS News

View Show Page
Sig Mickelson on the CBS Evening News with Douglas Edwards
02:36
Sig Mickelson on the difference between CBS News on radio and CBS News on television in the 1940s and 1950s and on the film they would run on television
05:05
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the Korean War
02:05
Sig Mickelson on CBS News documentaries and on the birth of See It Now, hosted by Edward R. Murrow
08:57
Sig Mickelson on the CBS News series Diplomatic Pouch
01:19
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the Japanese Peace Conference which included Walter Cronkite
11:57
Sig Mickelson on the role affiliates played in the early years of CBS News, and on reporting to Hubbell Robinson while dealing with the split between CBS News radio and television
04:22
Sig Mickelson on CBS News covering the 1952 Presidential Election
07:48
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions
04:20
Sig Mickelson on Walter Cronkite anchoring CBS News' coverage of the conventions and on inventing the term "anchorman"
02:25
Sig Mickelson on the innovations and impact of CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions
07:18
Sig Mickelson on the concept of "gavel-to-gavel coverage" first introduced by CBS News for the 1952 political conventions
01:55
Sig Mickelson on Don Hewitt's role during CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions
02:30
Sig Mickelson on Bill Leonard's contribution to CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions and on covering the speeches
04:04
Sig Mickelson on candid moments from the 1952 political conventions and on how CBS' coverage differed from NBC or ABC
03:19
Sig Mickelson on CBS News Radio's coverage of the 1952 political conventions
02:35
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of election night in 1952 and on the use of the Univac computer
07:12
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' relationship with Dwight D. Eisenhower and press secretary James Hagerty
03:01
Sig Mickelson on a dust up between CBS News and the Eisenhower White House over a scheduled interview with then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
09:59
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the technology associated with the broadcast
08:00
Sig Mickelson on the technological challenges of CBS News covering Queen Elizabeth's coronation and the innovations it helped bring about
14:16
Sig Mickelson on his progression to becoming President of CBS News
04:17
Sig Mickelson on Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow at CBS News, and on his experiences with the Hollywood Blacklist at CBS News
09:40
Sig Mickelson on the different networks coverage of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and on Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow's roles in the coverage
01:30
Sig Mickelson on the blacklisting of CBS News correspondent Winston Burdett
04:33
Sig Mickelson on the atmosphere at CBS News during the period of the Hollywood Blacklist, and his memories of the time
02:05
Sig Mickelson on the publication "Red Channels," and on the Hollywood Blacklist
04:37
Sig Mickelson on signing a loyalty oath for CBS News and on other issues connected with the Red Scare
05:42
Sig Mickelson on the impact of the advent of video tape on CBS News and sports
04:55
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the 1960 political conventions anchored by Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, and on their different styles
03:29
Sig Mickelson on the impact of videotape on CBS News' coverage of the 1960 political conventions
01:06
Sig Mickelson on organizing the details of the Kennedy-Nixon Debates
03:46
Sig Mickelson on selecting Howard K. Smith as the moderator of the first of the Kennedy-Nixon Debates
01:00
Sig Mickelson on his reaction to the Kennedy-Nixon Debates, and on talking with Richard M. Nixon
01:43
Sig Mickelson on the growing importance of presidential debates after 1960
01:24
Sig Mickelson on the presidency of John F. Kennedy and how he handled television as opposed to Richard M. Nixon
02:47
Sig Mickelson on his departure from CBS News
08:15
Sig Mickelson on bringing Harry Reasoner to CBS News
03:41

Olympics

View Show Page
Sig Mickelson on CBS's coverage of the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley
06:50
Sig Mickelson on Walter Cronkite anchoring the 1960 Winter Olympics from Squaw Valley, and on technical difficulties during the show
02:14

See It Now

View Show Page
Sig Mickelson on CBS News documentaries and on the birth of See It Now, hosted by Edward R. Murrow
08:57
Sig Mickelson on Edward R. Murrow's See It Now program
02:57
Topics

Cold War

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on a dust up between CBS News and the Eisenhower White House over a scheduled interview with then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
09:58

Dwight D. Eisenhower

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on CBS News covering the 1952 Presidential Election
07:48
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions
04:20
Sig Mickelson on Walter Cronkite anchoring CBS News' coverage of the conventions and on inventing the term "anchorman"
02:25
Sig Mickelson on the innovations and impact of CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions
07:18
Sig Mickelson on the concept of "gavel-to-gavel coverage" first introduced by CBS News for the 1952 political conventions
01:56
Sig Mickelson on Don Hewitt's role during CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions
02:30
Sig Mickelson on Bill Leonard's contribution to CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions and on covering the speeches
04:04
Sig Mickelson on candid moments from the 1952 political conventions and on how CBS' coverage differed from NBC or ABC
03:19
Sig Mickelson on CBS News Radio's coverage of the 1952 political conventions
02:35
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of election night in 1952 and on the use of the Univac computer
07:11
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' relationship with Dwight D. Eisenhower and press secretary James Hagerty
03:01
Sig Mickelson on a dust up between CBS News and the Eisenhower White House over a scheduled interview with then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
09:58

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the Korean War
02:03
Sig Mickelson on a dust up between CBS News and the Eisenhower White House over a scheduled interview with then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
09:58
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the technology associated with the broadcast
08:01
Sig Mickelson on the technological challenges of CBS News covering Queen Elizabeth's coronation and the innovations it helped bring about
14:16
Sig Mickelson on the Kennedy-Nixon Debates
06:26

Hollywood Blacklist

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on his experiences with the Hollywood Blacklist at CBS News
08:29
Sig Mickelson on the blacklisting of CBS News correspondent Winston Burdett
04:33
Sig Mickelson on the atmosphere at CBS News during the period of the Hollywood Blacklist, and his memories of the time
02:05
Sig Mickelson on the publication "Red Channels," and on the Hollywood Blacklist
04:37
Sig Mickelson on signing a loyalty oath for CBS News and on other issues connected with the Red Scare
05:42

Industry Crossroads

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on his experiences with the Hollywood Blacklist at CBS News
08:29
Sig Mickelson on the blacklisting of CBS News correspondent Winston Burdett
04:33
Sig Mickelson on the atmosphere at CBS News during the period of the Hollywood Blacklist, and his memories of the time
02:05
Sig Mickelson on the publication "Red Channels," and on the Hollywood Blacklist
04:37
Sig Mickelson on signing a loyalty oath for CBS News and on other issues connected with the Red Scare
05:42

John F. Kennedy

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on the presidency of John F. Kennedy and how he handled television as opposed to Richard M. Nixon
02:47

Kennedy-Nixon Debates

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on organizing the details of the Kennedy-Nixon Debates
03:43
Sig Mickelson on the Kennedy-Nixon Debates
06:26

Korean War

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the Korean War
02:05

Queen Elizabeth Coronation

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the technology associated with the broadcast
08:01
Sig Mickelson on the technological challenges of CBS News covering Queen Elizabeth's coronation and the innovations it helped bring about
14:16

Richard M. Nixon

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on his reaction to the Kennedy-Nixon Debates, and on talking with Richard M. Nixon
01:43

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of election night in 1952 and on the use of the Univac computer
07:11
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the technology associated with the broadcast
08:01
Sig Mickelson on the technological challenges of CBS News covering Queen Elizabeth's coronation and the innovations it helped bring about
14:16
Sig Mickelson on the impact of the advent of video tape on CBS News and sports
04:55
Sig Mickelson on how technological innovation has changed the way news events are covered by networks, and on the government's role in regulating the broadcast industry
02:44

Television Industry

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on his experiences with the Hollywood Blacklist at CBS News
08:29
Sig Mickelson on the blacklisting of CBS News correspondent Winston Burdett
04:33
Sig Mickelson on the atmosphere at CBS News during the period of the Hollywood Blacklist, and his memories of the time
02:05
Sig Mickelson on the publication "Red Channels," and on the Hollywood Blacklist
04:37
Sig Mickelson on signing a loyalty oath for CBS News and on other issues connected with the Red Scare
05:42
Sig Mickelson on television's impact on the political process in the United States
02:31
Sig Mickelson on how technological innovation has changed the way news events are covered by networks, and on the government's role in regulating the broadcast industry
02:44

Television and the Presidency

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on CBS News covering the 1952 Presidential Election
07:48
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions
04:20
Sig Mickelson on Walter Cronkite anchoring CBS News' coverage of the conventions and on inventing the term "anchorman"
02:25
Sig Mickelson on the innovations and impact of CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions
07:18
Sig Mickelson on the concept of "gavel-to-gavel coverage" first introduced by CBS News for the 1952 political conventions
01:56
Sig Mickelson on Don Hewitt's role during CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions
02:30
Sig Mickelson on Bill Leonard's contribution to CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions and on covering the speeches
04:04
Sig Mickelson on candid moments from the 1952 political conventions and on how CBS' coverage differed from NBC or ABC
03:19
Sig Mickelson on CBS News Radio's coverage of the 1952 political conventions
02:35
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of election night in 1952 and on the use of the Univac computer
07:11
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' relationship with Dwight D. Eisenhower and press secretary James Hagerty
03:00
Sig Mickelson on a dust up between CBS News and the Eisenhower White House over a scheduled interview with then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
09:58
Sig Mickelson on organizing the details of the Kennedy-Nixon Debates
03:46
Sig Mickelson on selecting Howard K. Smith as the moderator of the first of the Kennedy-Nixon Debates
01:00
Sig Mickelson on his reaction to the Kennedy-Nixon Debates, and on talking with Richard M. Nixon
01:43
Sig Mickelson on television's impact on the political process in the United States
02:31
Sig Mickelson on the growing importance of presidential debates after 1960
01:24
Sig Mickelson on the presidency of John F. Kennedy and how he handled television as opposed to Richard M. Nixon
02:47

War

View Topic
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the Korean War
02:05
Sig Mickelson on a dust up between CBS News and the Eisenhower White House over a scheduled interview with then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
09:58
Professions

Executives

View Profession
Sig Mickelson on the duty of broadcast news to be objective, and on the public perception of broadcast news' integrity
01:34
Sig Mickelson on journalists having a professional code of ethics
01:21

Journalists & News Producers

View Profession
Sig Mickelson on the duty of broadcast news to be objective, and on the public perception of broadcast news' integrity
01:34
Sig Mickelson on journalists having a professional code of ethics
01:21

Television Executive

View Profession
Sig Mickelson on the duty of broadcast news to be objective, and on the public perception of broadcast news' integrity
01:34
Sig Mickelson on journalists having a professional code of ethics
01:21
Genres

News and Documentary

View Genre
Sig Mickelson on his stint at CBS News
19:29
Sig Mickelson on CBS News documentaries and on the birth of See It Now, hosted by Edward R. Murrow
08:57
Sig Mickelson on reporting for CBS News
27:28
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions
28:29
Sig Mickelson on working for CBS News
28:13
Sig Mickelson on his time as President of CBS News
28:13
Sig Mickelson on his experiences as head of CBS News
18:28
Sig Mickelson on being President of CBS News
28:07
Sig Mickelson on acting as President of CBS News
19:31

Sports

View Genre
Sig Mickelson on his role in the development of sports programming in the early years of CBS television
09:58
People

Walter Cronkite

View Interview Page
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the Japanese Peace Conference which included Walter Cronkite
11:58
Sig Mickelson on his involvement with Walter Cronkite
02:03
Sig Mickelson on Walter Cronkite anchoring CBS News' coverage of the conventions and on inventing the term "anchorman"
02:24
Sig Mickelson on why Walter Cronkite was selected to cover Elizabeth II's coronation for CBS News over Edward R. Murrow
01:10
Sig Mickelson on Walter Cronkite anchoring the 1960 Winter Olympics from Squaw Valley
02:15
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the 1960 political conventions anchored by Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, and on their different styles
03:29

Dwight D. Eisenhower

View Person Page
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' relationship with Dwight D. Eisenhower and press secretary James Hagerty
03:01

Fred Friendly

View Person Page
Sig Mickelson on CBS News documentaries and on the birth of See It Now, hosted by Edward R. Murrow and produced by Fred Friendly
08:57

Don Hewitt

View Interview Page
Sig Mickelson on Don Hewitt's role during CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions
02:29

John F. Kennedy

View Person Page
Sig Mickelson on the Kennedy-Nixon debates
06:36
Sig Mickelson on the presidency of John F. Kennedy and how he handled television as opposed to Richard M. Nixon
02:47

Nikita Khrushchev

View Person Page
Sig Mickelson on a dust up between CBS News and the Eisenhower White House over a scheduled interview with then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
09:58

Bill Leonard

View Person Page
Sig Mickelson on Bill Leonard's contribution to CBS News' coverage of the 1952 political conventions and on covering the speeches
04:03

Worthington Miner

View Person Page
Sig Mickelson on Worthington Miner, Jack Van Valkenburg, and Aaron Erlich
02:24

Newton N. Minow

View Interview Page
Sig Mickelson on John Day, David Schoenbrun, and Newton N. Minow
02:52

Edward R. Murrow

View Person Page
Sig Mickelson on CBS News documentaries and on the birth of See It Now, hosted by Edward R. Murrow and produced by Fred Friendly
08:57
Sig Mickelson on why Walter Cronkite was selected to cover Elizabeth II's coronation for CBS News over Edward R. Murrow
01:10
Sig Mickelson on CBS News' coverage of the 1960 political conventions anchored by Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, and on their different styles
03:29
Sig Mickelson on Edward R. Murrow's See It Now program
02:56

Richard M. Nixon

View Person Page
Sig Mickelson on the Kennedy-Nixon debates
06:36
Sig Mickelson on the presidency of John F. Kennedy and how he handled television as opposed to Richard M. Nixon
02:47

William S. Paley

View Person Page
Sig Mickelson on working with William S. Paley and Frank Stanton at CBS News
01:26

Harry Reasoner

View Person Page
Sig Mickelson on bringing Harry Reasoner to CBS News
03:41

Hubbell Robinson

View Person Page
Sig Mickelson on the role affiliates played in the early years of CBS News, and on reporting to Hubbell Robinson
04:20

Richard S. Salant

View Person Page
Sig Mickelson on Edward P. Morgan, Irving Gitlin, and Richard S. Salant
02:45

Howard K. Smith

View Interview Page
Sig Mickelson on selecting Howard K. Smith as the moderator of the first of the Kennedy-Nixon Debates
01:00

Frank Stanton

View Interview Page
Sig Mickelson on working with William S. Paley and Frank Stanton at CBS News
01:26

Mike Wallace

View Interview Page
Sig Mickelson on Mike Wallace
01:37

Joseph Wershba

View Interview Page
Sig Mickelson on Joseph Wershba, Palmer Williams, and Phil Scheffler
01:25

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