The Man in the Moon

My thoughts on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #43, now online, gave me a chance to reflect on my own interest in space — and so it was ironic that the news of Walter Cronkite passed just as I was writing them. For you see, he’s the man in the moon. And I’m not speaking figuratively.

Here’s how: I was far too young to pay much attention to the coverage of the Apollo landings; I don’t remember anything before Apollo-Soyuz, some years later. But I do remember as a child watching the CBS Evening News, often with Walter Cronkite next to a graphic of the moon. And so as a child, when people would tell me to look for the “man in the moon,” I always imagined I saw Cronkite! I guess since I was watching far more television as a kid than I was actually getting outside at night, I just drew some subliminal connection. Strange — but it still happens, sometimes.

Anyway, earlier this year I read his autobiography, A Reporter’s Life, which I strongly recommend for some surprising stories about the very early days of broadcasting. I’d had no idea that he’d cohosted a morning news show with Dick Van Dyke of all people (it didn’t go well). And I love his stories of broadcasting sports events as if they were live — when he was really reading from a wire ticker and just making up all the colorful stuff in between.

There’s probably some lessons there for the Web, as it’s also in the improvisational, let’s-see-what-works phase as a medium. A strongly recommended work from someone who’ll definitely be missed.