Written by Elizabeth Ann Foster
Acclaimed world-renowned veteran reporter, journalist, correspondent and newscaster Dan Rather recorded his autobiographical show Stories of a Lifetime for audiobook publisher Audible to a full house at the Minetta Lane theatre in Manhattan on February 18, 2020. Audible will release the recording later in 2020.
In a deeply personal, charming, and sometimes folksy story-telling style, Dan Rather began by reflecting on his earliest days as a boy growing up during the Great Depression with his family in rural Texas. He methodically presented his life and career building up to his years as CBS news anchor. After all, as he explained, he is first and foremost a Texan. He spoke sentimentally about his friends, family and times in Texas, sharing cherished anecdotes as if we were sitting with his family after a holiday dinner.
He spoke wistfully of his early influences leading him to a career in journalism. Although his family was poor and his parents did not graduate high school they read newspapers religiously. His father emphasized the importance of the press and written word, encouraging young Dan to not only pursue journalism as a career, but to be the first in his family to attend college.
Rather spoke of a variety of jobs as local disk jockey and newspaper reporter. He emphasized his mantra of presenting news with integrity and veracity. He modestly argued that he was lucky and in a sense was in the right place at the right time as his career advanced. Clearly however, he possesses a drive and talent for journalism that served him well throughout his career. One can argue that he was courageous, choosing the most difficult and challenging assignments of the day and on the other hand, having lived through some of the most tumultuous times of the 20th century. He was in Dallas when J. F. Kennedy was assassinated, met every president since Eisenhower and served as White House correspondence beginning in 1964, covered the Vietnam War in combat zones where incidentally he lost a portion of his hearing, and covered the Watergate scandal up to Nixon’s resignation.
His first big break, as he described, occurred during his coverage of Hurricane Carla in 1961. He managed to travel to the Texas coast to see a new use of radar to observe the impending storm. He determined that the radar image could be superimposed on a coastal map to better visualize the scope of the hurricane. His subsequent newscast is credited to having saved thousands of lives thanks to significant evacuations away from the path of one of the largest recorded hurricanes. Weather radar was quickly adopted as a tool by newscasters worldwide from that point and brought enough attention to Rather that he was invited to join CBS news in New York. He served as the CBS news anchor for 24 years and contributed to the CBS weekly TV news magazine 60 Minutes.
An amazing force of energy at age 88 Rather is still working and following his passions. In January he began hosting an online newscast on a YouTube channel.
What makes this worthy of a listen when released is the personal antidotes and confessions of a life lived to the fullest. At times choked up and at others belly laughing you come to see Rather raw in his attempt at being a human. This is much different than another simultaneously running production called BOOM over at 59E59 reviewed here as well. Where BOOM is the Canadian version of the same period Rather covers it is second hand as the artist Rick Miller did not live through the events but learned of them through his parents. Rather has lived and reported on the entire Baby Boomer generation with authority.
Stories Of a Lifetime Dan Rather Live – Dan Rather creator and performer.
Directed by Kimberly Senior; production stage manager Kyle Birdsall; production assistant Christine Colonna; sound designer Matt Otto; production manager Sean Gorski; production electronics James Kolditz; company manager Jonathan Whitton general management by Baseline Theatrical; media service by Audible.
Minetta Lane Theatre 18 Minetta Ln, New York, NY 10012 (800) 745-3000 February 18-19 7pm only. Runtime 85 minutes no intermission.