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Columns > Randy Ray - Peaches En Randalia

Published: 2006/11/18
by Randy Ray

When the Cool Cat Ruled the Earth The Legacy of Ed Bradley

Peaches En Randalia #9
We lost another great one this month. Veteran 60 Minutes correspondent, Ed Bradley passed away on Thursday, November 9 after a long, secretive battle with leukemia. Unbeknownst to most of the world but family members and a handful of close friends, Bradleys death shook his professional world to the core. The rest of us outside of his sacred inner circle were also stunned regarding the news. I was startled as to how much this man meant to me. He had been the creator and literate guide of so many critical news broadcasts from Vietnam to Washington D.C. to the Sudan to a merry pranksterish Muhammad Ali and his wife to Bob Dylan in a hotel room to a New Orleans stage during his annual visits to JazzFest when he would hop on stage and belt out the only song he would ever singappropriately enough, 60 Minute Man.
The evening of his death, CNNs Larry King Live had most of the principal players of 60 Minutes gathered in a sometimes dark, occasionally humorous round table of Bradley remorse, wit and reflection. It was odd to see the mighty titans of broadcast journalism slumped and dejected, without the powerful creative spark that has made the program arguably the most influential series in a medium that is often absurdly pointless. I recorded the program and Ive watched it three times already. I want to let Bradleys loss sink into my bones because Im not sure why he meant so much to me. He just did.
Sowhat, pray tell, is the legacy of Ed Bradley? Is it his supercool broadcast persona? His compassionate social injustice stories? The chats with musical legends? The ease in which he insinuated himself into the truth of so many difficult tales i.e. his chilling, exclusive interview with the Oklahoma bomber, Timothy McVeigh? Is a man the sum product of his work? His family? Or is he the spiritual echo that binds him to the future? If there was anyone that could have found the answer to that final, thorny metaphysical question, Im sure Bradley would be near the top of the list.
On November 9, the journalism world lost a great voice for the common person, a diligent observer of the evolving social scene, an astute music lover from Lena Horne to the Stones, a literary friend to his Colorado neighbor, the late Hunter S. Thompsonthe list goes on and on as we are less one great newsman, there is no question there; but the world lost something far more crucial in these difficult timeswe lost a great man.
-_Randy Ray stores his work at www.rmrcompany.blogspot.com. _

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