It’s the Fourth of July and I’m gazing at the rolling hills of mid-Ohio for a bit of R&R with my beautiful wife and her parents. Every summer, we criss-cross 3 states to visit with family and friends. Although some of my urban amenities such as fast and abundant wi-fi are nill on this trip, I’ve learned to appreciate time away. It’s a slight shock from our daily routines as we forgo the bustling of the big city for rural routes and one-stop towns.
There’s something majestic and freeing about the countryside. Cruzing down two-lane highways and coming up on some of these one-horse towns, I can’t help but think I’m Charles Kuralt in an episode of On The Road.
A true American storyteller and documentarian. The famous journalist essentially pioneered the concept of a vlog with his CBS television series that ran well into the 1990s. Charlie and his production team traveled the continent in an RV to document stories that made America. Sharing and creating content in ways that anyone could appreciate and enjoy. Kuralt found these stories by word of mouth and old fashion journalism. In his time, there weren’t cell phones, GPS enabled maps, online reviews, they had to rely on intuition and luck to report back to CBS New York. That takes a lot of creativity and skills to uncover the real story.
In a world of sensationalized headlines, 10-second sound bites and clickbait articles, it’s almost hard to see On The Road exist today. At least in the venerable form that it did for nearly a quarter century. Although Kuralt’s style may seem timeless, he was quite the trailblazer of his time. In an interview with Charles Osgood, Kuralt explains his style in comparison to the gotcha investigative reporting often lauded in the media.
I suspended my skepticism along time ago. It’s so much more fun, though unsophisticated maybe even unprofessional in a journalist, to just sit there and enjoy the guy. And learn a few things.
Innate storytelling requires learning, looking in the eyes of your subject and retelling their story in a way they almost couldn’t do on their own. Charlie was a master of this and someone I admire, even if from afar – or ago.
There are so many people and experiences that are prime for documentation. Just don’t wait too long as these often overlooked stories are under-appreciated. Until their gone. Not sure what to share on social media or your blog, think about what is under-represented, overlooked or under-appreciated. Tell its story in a way that only you can tell it and the world will see it as you do.
Thanks to trailblazers like Kuralt for showing us exactly how to tell a story and why it’s important.
I wonder what… Charlie would do with a video camera in his pocket?
RIP: Charles Kuralt, died on the Fourth of July in 1996.