Tom Brokaw fondly remembers the seven years he spent in Los Angeles broadcasting KNBC-TV Channel 4’s late local news.
He arrived in Los Angeles in 1966, in his first NBC News correspondent job, as California was booming. He and his wife built a house at Venice Beach for $105,000. He would ride to assignments on the back of a motorcycle driven by a KNBC cameraman. One day a child greeted him by sliding down NBC’s Burbank studio halls — it was Michael Jackson. There he also encountered a Hollywood cowboy, John Wayne, who told him: “Watch ya every night, kid.”
“It was very hard to leave Los Angeles — even to go cover the White House and Watergate,” Brokaw said in an interview with The Times.
On Tuesday, Brokaw, 74, is expected to return to his old haunts to be honored by NBCUniversal.
The company plans to name its new 150,000-square-foot news facility in Los Angeles the Brokaw News Center.
The two buildings, on the edge of the Universal Studios lot just off Lankershim Boulevard, provide the headquarters of the company’s West Coast operations of NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC and Spanish-language Telemundo News. The center, which opened this year and provides space for 600 workers, also includes newsrooms for KNBC and Telemundo’s KVEA-TV Channel 52.
Brokaw has covered some of the biggest news stories of the time, including civil rights, Watergate, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He has covered every presidential election since 1964 and was anchor of “NBC Nightly News” for more than 21 years until he stepped down December 2004. Since then, he’s been doing special reports for NBC News.
“I get to have my name on the building, but journalism and broadcasting is really a team effort,” Brokaw said.
Brokaw disclosed in February that he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer affecting blood cells in the bone marrow.
“I’m happy to report that the treatment appears to be going extremely well, fingers crossed,” Brokaw said.
Brokaw joins such figures as Abbott and Costello, Alfred Hitchcock, Carl Laemmle and Steven Spielberg in having a building or street on the Universal lot named after him.
“The name Tom Brokaw is synonymous with integrity, passion and a commitment to getting the story right,” said Steve Burke, chief executive of NBCUniversal. “It is fitting to name this state-of-the-art news center after a true broadcast legend like Tom, who has done so much for journalism and for NBC News.”