Charles Osgood, a five-time Emmy Award-winning journalist who anchored “CBS Sunday Morning” for more than two decades and spent part of his youth in Baltimore, has died. He was 91.
CBS reported that Osgood died Tuesday at his home in Saddle River, New Jersey, and that the cause was dementia, according to his family.
Osgood hosted the long-running radio program “The Osgood File” and was referred to as CBS News’ poet-in-residence.
Osgood was an erudite, warm broadcaster with a flair for music who could write essays and light verse as well as report hard news. He worked radio and television with equal facility and signed off by telling listeners: “I’ll see you on the radio.”
“To say there’s no one like Charles Osgood is an understatement,” Rand Morrison, executive producer of “Sunday Morning,” said in a statement. “He embodied the heart and soul of ‘Sunday Morning.’ ... At the piano, Charlie put our lives to music. Truly, he was one of a kind — in every sense.”
Osgood spent time in Baltimore during his childhood. His family moved when he was 6 years old. Osgood’s 2004 book, “Defending Baltimore Against Enemy Attack: A Boyhood Year During World War II,” focuses on 1942 and recounts the war from the perspective of a 9-year-old boy.
He attended Catholic school in the city and was nicknamed “The Professor” by at least one nun, according to the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Catholic Review. He played organ at his church and told The Catholic Review, “I think there is a distinctive charm to Baltimore, and it has everything to do with the people who live there.”
In an essay for CBS, Osgood, a self-described “Baltimore boy,” described a love affair with the then-Triple A Baltimore Orioles baseball team. The team wasn’t particularly good, Osgood said, but still the apple of a young boy’s eye, Osgood told CBS in 2016.
“I loved them anyway, especially when my father would take me out to the ballpark to see the games,” Osgood said.
While listening to games on the radio, Osgood wrote, he had fantasies about of playing shortstop for the Orioles.
“That dream was a little unrealistic, though — I was afraid of ground balls!” Osgood wrote.
Osgood’s family moved again to New Jersey, where he graduated from high school in 1954.
“CBS News Sunday Morning” will honor Osgood with a special broadcast on Sunday.
Osgood took over “Sunday Morning” after the beloved Charles Kuralt retired in 1994. Osgood seemingly had an impossible act to follow, but with his folksy erudition and his slightly bookish, bow-tied style, he immediately clicked with viewers who continued to embrace the program as an unhurried TV magazine.
Osgood, who graduated from Fordham University in 1954, started as a classic music DJ in Washington, D.C., served in the Army and returned to help start WHCT in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1963, he got an on-air position at ABC Radio in New York.
In 1967, he took a job as reporter on the CBS-owned New York news radio station NewsRadio 88. Then, one fateful weekend, he was summoned to fill in at the anchor desk for the TV network’s Saturday newscast. In 1971, he joined the CBS network and launched what would be known as “The Osgood File.”
In 1990, he was inducted into the radio division of the National Association of Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame. In 2008, he was awarded the National Association of Broadcasters’ Distinguished Service Award. He won four Emmy Awards and earned a fifth lifetime achievement honor in 2017.
Jane Pauley succeeded Osgood as host of “Sunday Morning,” becoming only the third host of the program.
When he retired in 2016 after 45 years of journalism, Osgood did so in a very Osgood fashion.
“For years now, people — even friends and family — have been asking me why I continue doing this, considering my age,” the then-83-year-old Osgood said in brief concluding remarks. “It’s just that it’s been such a joy doing it! It’s been a great run, but after nearly 50 years at CBS ... the time has come.”
And then he sang a few wistful bars from a favorite folk song: “So long, it’s been good to know you. I’ve got to be driftin’ along.”
The Baltimore Banner’s Cody Boteler contributed to this report.