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If you like Mike Wallace's story, you might also like:
Sam Donaldson,
Rudolph Giuliani,
Nicholas Kristof,
Charles Kuralt,
Dan Rather,
Ted Turner and
Bob Woodward

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Mike Wallace
 
Mike Wallace
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Mike Wallace Interview (page: 2 / 7)

CBS News Correspondent

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  Mike Wallace

When was your first experience in broadcasting? Was it in Ann Arbor?

Mike Wallace: Radio in Ann Arbor, yes, the University of Michigan.

I think you said once that you felt "trapped" by radio, that it was so captivating it was almost impossible to get out.


Mike Wallace: Well, radio was the first time -- when I hit the University of Michigan -- that I found that I had an interesting delivery, a reasonably attractive voice. I didn't have to worry about what I looked like. The mind's eye in radio for the listener is so much more vivid than anything that you can put on the screen. At least that's what I believed then. So, I wasn't trapped by radio. I was trapped because I felt I would probably never make it in television because cosmetically, perhaps, I wasn't sufficiently interesting looking or pleasant looking. But no radio, it was wonderful to work in radio.


Did you consider any other career?


Mike Wallace: Growing up I thought that I was going to be, probably, a lawyer. Then I thought maybe I would be an English teacher. Then one day at Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, I walked into - I guess it was my sophomore year there -- I walked into the radio station operation there. It wasn't really a station. And I was hooked. I suddenly realized that was going to be my métier. I didn't know how I was going to make it, but I knew damn well I was going to be. All I wanted to be was a radio announcer. That was it. I could rip and read the news. I could announce a soap opera. I wound up doing "Road of Life," the story of Dr. Jim Brent, and 'The Guiding Light." And, I read a hell of a commercial.

[ Key to Success ] Vision


I really got my first job in radio for $20 a month n 1939, from in WOOD in Grand Rapids.

Is that the station that was owned by a furniture company?

Mike Wallace: Woodwash; WOOD-WASH. It was owned by a laundry and a furniture company, yes.


I think it was WASH until noon and WOOD until midnight or something of that sort. It was part of the Michigan Radio Network back then. That gave me an opportunity. Truly, you could do everything in the world. You could do news. You could do sports, not play-by-play, but color and quiz broadcasts. When people talk to me about what they should do, that's the way, even today, I think that some young individual who wants to go into broadcasting should start. First of all, forget about communication school or journalism school to begin with. If you want to go to journalism school, fine. Wait until you finish college and had a good LS&A background, literature, science and the arts background. Know your economics, know your history, know your political science and write. Then you can learn your trade, so to speak, in television or radio simply by doing, starting out as an intern and learning how to do everything, but you've to do that in a small market so that you have an opportunity to be bad before you are good and nobody is going to throw you out of a job.

[ Key to Success ] Preparation


Were you ever bad?

Mike Wallace: I was a novice, of course. You learn as you go.

So you moved to Detroit and acted on some amazing radio series.

Mike Wallace: In Detroit, Douglas Edwards and I were the two "Cunningham News Aces." Douglas Edwards was the first anchor of the CBS Evening News on television, but at the beginning of the war, the broadcast would start with the sound of a P-38, "The Cunningham News Aces on the air and here is Douglas Edwards..." or "Here is Myron Wallace." But in addition to that, I regularly narrated and announced, did the commercials for The Green Hornet, and occasionally for The Lone Ranger, and a variety of that kind of broadcast, dramas.

When did Myron Wallace become Mike?


Mike Wallace: In Chicago, so that would have been either in the early 40s or in the middle 40s after I got out of the Navy, somebody wanted to do a program called The Love of Mike. They used to call me Mike. That was my nickname. My original nickname was Chinky, Chinky Wallace because I had slanted eyes or narrow eyes. I liked "Mike," so I discarded "Myron" and kept "Mike." So, it's been 60 years or thereabouts.


After I got into the Navy I finally found out that reading other people's words -- be it advertising or news writing or whatever -- was not going to be satisfying for me. So little by little I found my way out. I also found that it was more lucrative to be able to do a variety of things in radio and eventually in television.

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This page last revised on Mar 24, 2008 13:32 EST
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