For a man celebrating his ruby anniversary in New York, Chuck Scarborough is certainly worthy of additional blog space. The longtime anchor is mix of gravitas and greatness. We recently wrote about his major milestone at WNBC, but without the cooperation of Scarborough himself.
At the New York Emmys Sunday night, the anchor great was on hand to receive the prestigious Governor’s Award. While there, Tuned In caught up with Scarborough and finally was granted a few minutes.
As you probably know by now, the trajectory of local news in New York was forever changed when Scarborough debuted at WNBC. It was March 25, 1974 and he was manning the first half of a new expanded two-hour NewsCenter4 broadcast. With the onslaught of Star Wars and Star Trek to follow later in the decade, there was a definite Hollywood spaceship feel at Studio 6B.
“We had this mammoth set that we built. I’d come in here when the ratings had actually tanked to zero,” Scarborough recalls. “I remember thinking after my first broadcast, after I got over the willies of going on the air…admiring the set but hoping that people would tune in for the set and me. Because it occurred to me that nobody ever walked away from a Broadway show whistling the set. I was hoping that I would finally be able to build enough of an audience in New York to get that news operation off the ground.”
By 1980, the sprawling set was gone, but Scarborough was just hitting his stride. At the zenith of his career, Scarborough spent the first half of his Channel 4 career anchoring double duty on the network. He was predominantly featured on NBC News evening updates and was a Saturday anchor of Nightly News.
He has won more than 30 Emmys during his four-decade visit into New Yorkers’ homes. In establishing a record-setting longevity, Scarborough finds the secret to his success.
“It’s whatever combination of hard work and skills that I’ve acquired and storytelling ability and the audience appreciating what I do fundamentally,” Scarborough says. “Without the audience and without the ratings being adequate throughout the entire 40-year span, I wouldn’t have lasted. I’m grateful to the audience that I’m still here.”
When Scarborough reached 38 years on the air, he quietly became the longest-running English-language anchor in New York history.
But with a touch of gravitas and greatness, Scarborough reflects on his amazing journey at 30 Rock.
“Frankly, I’m astonished that I’m still here. This is not normal. This is not typical. This is a very itinerant business.. I’m exceedingly grateful that I was able to last this long and continue to last. I’ve got a couple years left on my contract now, so I’m not out of here yet.”