AUSTIN, Texas—Robert Trout, whose life as a broadcast journalist spans seven decades of American and world history, has given the University of Texas Center for American History his personal archive of materials related to his career on radio and television.
Trout’s donation comprises 40 linear feet of correspondence, radio and television scripts and transcripts, research and promotional materials, personal notes and diaries, audio recordings, photographs and other materials. “Once cataloged,” said Dr. Don E. Carleton, director of the Center for American History, “the Robert Trout Papers will give the public the opportunity to study the historical development of radio and television journalism, comprised in a man whose life behind the microphone and, later, in front of the camera, began during the earliest days of the electronic media.”
Now 90, Trout began his career in 1931 as a radio news announcer for independent station WJSV in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. He covered events in Herbert Hoover’s White House alongside correspondents from the fledgling radio networks, NBC and CBS. The next year, CBS bought WJSV and retained Trout. Among the events he covered in those days were John Philip Sousa’s last public performance, campaign speeches by New York’s Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the repeal of Prohibition.
During Roosevelt’s presidency, Trout was the broadcaster who first used the term “fireside chat” to describe, as CBS’s correspondent, the familiar radio addresses Roosevelt gave to the nation. Radio listeners whose memories reach back to the days of Roosevelt’s presidency today can recall Trout’s calm, distinguished voice painting the “sound pictures” that described over the CBS network the major events of the Great Depression and World War II.
Since then, Trout has appeared on radio and television, mostly for CBS, with brief stints at NBC and ABC, covering events as varied as Douglas MacArthur’s return to Washington in 1949, Alan Shepherd’s space flight in 1961, politcal conventions, Easter parades and the running of the bulls in Pamplona. In 1949, he began a television series, “Who Said That?”, which became TV’s first panel show. In 1980, Trout won the Peabody Award for “distinguished and meritorious public service.”
On Thursday (Nov. 11), National Public Radio will bring together three veteran broadcasters to discuss the top news stories of the 20th century. Trout, who is a commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered will be joined by George Herman and NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr. The discussion will be moderated by NPR’s All Things Considered host Linda Wertheimer.
Acquisition of the Robert Trout Papers is part of the Center for American History’s effort to locate, acquire and make available for research archival collections that document the historical development of the media in the United States. The Trout Papers are a significant addition to this media archive, which includes the papers of Walter Cronkite, Joseph Wershba and Andy Rooney; the collections of photographers Russell Lee, Flip Schulke and David Hume Kennerly; and the newspaper morgues of the New York Herald Tribune and The New York Times.
The Center for American History is a special collections library, archive and museum that facilitates research and sponsors programs on the historical development of the United States. The Center’s Research and Collections Division is located in Unit 2 of Sid Richardson Hall on the UT campus in Austin, and its divisions include the Winedale Historical Center, near Round Top, Texas, and the Sam Rayburn Library and Museum in Bonham, Texas.
For additional information, please contact Dr. Don E. Carleton by telephone at (512) 495-4515 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.