There's this quiz I give to some of our young interns when they first arrive at Nightline. I didn't do it with this last batch. It's a little too close to home. "How many of you," I'll ask, "Can tell me anything about Eric Severeid?" Blank stares. "How about Howard K. Smith or Frank Reynolds?" Not a twitch of recognition.
Chet Huntley, Jack Chancellor? Still nothing. David Brinkley sometimes causes a hand or two to be raised; and Walter Cronkite may be glad to learn that a lot of young people still have a vague recollection that he once worked in television news.
What none of these young men and women in their late teens and early twenties appreciates, until I point it out to them, is that they have just heard the names of seven anchormen or commentators who were once so famous that everybody in the country knew their names. Everybody.
Trust me. The transition from one anchor to another is not that big a deal.
Cronkite begat Rather, Chancellor begat Brokaw, Reynolds begat Jennings; and each of them did a pretty fair job in his own right.
You've always been very nice to me. Give this new Nightline anchor team a fair break. If you don't, I promise you the network will just put another comedy show in this time slot. Then you'll be sorry.
That's our report for tonight...I'm Ted Koppel in Washington...
For all of us here at ABC News... Good night.
Pure class. Good for him.