I wasn't quite in junior high yet when he signed off the air, but I remember seeing him many evenings because back then everybody watched the news in the evening around dinnertime. Especially when there were only three channels and you could only get your news in an hour or two a day, if not from the paper. Walter Cronkite carried himself with a dignified grace and integrity that we'll never see again. His era of the news presenting the facts and honest, thoughtful opinion over sensationalism and talking-point shillery passed over a quarter century ago. This guy literally started the term "Anchor" for the news.
A plain-spoken anchor like Cronkite would never make it in today's manic, sensationalistic news business.
I mean, he wore thick black glasses and had a moustache! But back then it was less about looking good than telling things the way they were. Even if the news was terrible news, he would somehow make you feel that things were going to be OK through it all, with his "And that's the way it is" signoff.
Like Phog Allen in his day, Cronkite was pushed out the door by CBS's mandatory retirement at 65-- and then came the era of Captain Hairdo network news anchors with shiny teeth and little substance. Cronkite stepped down as the last of the old greats, and before long the news became about fast sound bites, know-it-all pretty talking heads, and, with the removal of the FCC's Fairness Doctrine, invective-bloated pundits and screaming newscasts on FOX News. It must have been hard for him to watch all this happen, not to mention the decline and fall of journalism as a profession and an industry.
So here's to you, Mr. Cronkite, I hope you're landing some awesome interviews with history's greats out there in the hereafter. The news media could learn a lot from your example, if they would just listen.