Ted Koppel

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Ted Koppel
Ted Koppel.jpg
Ted Koppel in December 2017
Edward James Martin Koppel [1]

(1940-02-08) 8 February 1940 (age 79)
Nelson, Lancashire, England
Education Syracuse University (BS)
Stanford University (MA)
Occupation Journalist, news anchor, author
Years active1963–present
Known for Nightline (1980–2005)
Spouse(s)Grace Anne Dorney
Parent(s)Alice Koppel
Edwin Koppel

Edward James Martin Koppel (born February 8, 1940) is a British-born American broadcast journalist, best known as the anchor for Nightline , from the program's inception in 1980 until 2005.

Journalism refers to the production and distribution of reports on recent events. The word journalism applies to the occupation, as well as citizen journalists using methods of gathering information and using literary techniques. Journalistic media include print, television, radio, Internet, and, in the past, newsreels.

A news presenter – also known as a newsreader, newscaster, anchorman or anchorwoman, news anchor or simply an anchor – is a person who presents news during a news program on the television, on the radio or on the Internet. They may also be a working journalist, assisting in the collection of news material and may, in addition, provide commentary during the program. News presenters most often work from a television studio or radio studio, but may also present the news from remote locations in the field related to a particular major news event.

Nightline is ABC News' late-night news program broadcast on ABC in the United States with a franchised formula to other networks and stations elsewhere in the world. Created by Roone Arledge, the program featured Ted Koppel as its main anchor from March 1980 until his retirement in November 2005. Its current, rotating anchors are Dan Harris, Byron Pitts, and Juju Chang. Nightline airs weeknights from 12:37 to 1:07 a.m., Eastern Time, after Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which had served as the program's lead-out from 2003 to 2012.


Before Nightline, he spent twenty years as a broadcast journalist and news anchor for ABC. After becoming host of Nightline, he was regarded as one of the most "outstanding" of the serious-minded interviewers on American television. Five years after its 1980 debut the show had a nightly audience of some seven and a half million viewers. [2]

American Broadcasting Company American broadcast television network

The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is an American commercial broadcast television network that is a flagship property of Walt Disney Television, a subsidiary of the Disney Media Networks division of The Walt Disney Company. The network is headquartered in Burbank, California on Riverside Drive, directly across the street from Walt Disney Studios and adjacent to the Roy E. Disney Animation Building, But the network's second corporate headquarters and News headquarters remains in New York City, New York at their broadcast center on 77 West 66th Street in Lincoln Square in Upper West Side Manhattan.

After leaving Nightline, Koppel worked as managing editor for the Discovery Channel, a news analyst for NPR and BBC World News America and a contributor to Rock Center with Brian Williams . Koppel is currently a special contributor to CBS News Sunday Morning . His career as foreign and diplomatic correspondent earned him numerous awards, including nine Overseas Press Club awards and twenty-five Emmy Awards.

A managing editor (ME) is a senior member of a publication's management team. Typically, the managing editor reports directly to the editor in chief and oversees all aspects of the publication.

Discovery Channel is an American pay television network and flagship channel owned by Discovery, Inc., a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav. As of June 2012, Discovery Channel is the third most widely distributed subscription channel in the United States, behind TBS and The Weather Channel; it is available in 409 million households worldwide, through its U.S. flagship channel and its various owned or licensed television channels internationally.

NPR non-profit membership media organization

National Public Radio is an American privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization based in Washington, D.C. NPR differs from other non-profit membership media organizations, such as AP, in that it was established by an act of Congress and most of its member stations are owned by government entities. It serves as a national syndicator to a network of over 1,000 public radio stations in the United States.

Early life and education

Koppel, an only child, was born in Nelson, England. His parents, German Jews, had fled Germany after the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism. [3] In Germany, Koppel's father had operated a tire-manufacturing company. To help the British economy, the Home Secretary invited him and his wife to move the factory to Lancashire, England, where, he was promised, they would be protected in the event of war. [3] They moved the factory there in 1936; but, when war broke out in Europe, in 1939, he was instead declared an enemy alien and imprisoned on the Isle of Man for a year and a half. [3]

Nelson, Lancashire town and civil parish in the Borough of Pendle in Lancashire, England

Nelson is a town and civil parish in the Borough of Pendle in Lancashire, England, with a population of 29,135 in 2011. It is 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Burnley on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Jews ancient nation and ethnoreligious group from the Levant

Jews or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish people, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.

Adolf Hitler Leader of Germany from 1934 to 1945

Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.

Koppel was born in 1940, shortly after his father was taken away. For income, his mother sold her personal jewelry and did menial work in London to provide for her infant son. [3] When his father was released, he still was not permitted to work in England, nor would he allow his wife to work. In the years after the war ended, they gained some money from their confiscated assets and decided to leave for the United States. [3] While in England, Ted Koppel was a pupil at Abbotsholme School, in Derbyshire. In 1953, when he was 13, the family immigrated to the United States, [3] where his mother, Alice, became a singer and pianist, and his father, Edwin, opened a tire factory. [4] Koppel says "they came here because they believed the opportunities for me would be better in America." [3] Koppel's boyhood hero was radio broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, whose factual reports during the bombings of London inspired him to want to become a journalist. [5]

Edward R. Murrow American broadcast journalist

Edward Roscoe Murrow, was an American broadcast journalist and war correspondent. He first gained prominence during World War II with a series of live radio broadcasts from Europe for the news division of CBS. During the war he recruited and worked closely with a team of war correspondents who came to be known as the Murrow Boys.

The Blitz bombing of London during WWII

The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against Britain in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War. The term was first used by the British press and is the German word for 'lightning'.

After attending the McBurney School, a private preparatory institution in New York, [6] Koppel attended Syracuse University, from which he graduated at age 20 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He was a member of the Alpha Chi chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. His roommate recalls that Koppel "was incredibly focused and had a photographic memory. He remembers almost every conversation he ever had with anybody. And the man never needs sleep." [7]

McBurney School was a college preparatory school in Manhattan run by the YMCA of Greater New York.

Syracuse University University located in Syracuse, New York, United States

Syracuse University is a private research university in Syracuse, New York, United States. The institution's roots can be traced to the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, founded in 1831 by the Methodist Episcopal Church in Lima, New York. After several years of debate over relocating the college to Syracuse, the university was established in 1870, independent of the college. Since 1920, the university has identified itself as nonsectarian, although it maintains a relationship with The United Methodist Church.

A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years, or a person holding such a degree.

Koppel then went to Stanford University, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in mass-communications research and political science. [8] While at Stanford, he met his future wife, Grace Anne Dorney. [3]


News correspondent

Koppel as the diplomatic correspondent for ABC News, 1976. Ted Koppel 1976.JPG
Koppel as the diplomatic correspondent for ABC News, 1976.

Koppel had a brief stint as a teacher before being hired as a copyboy at the New York Times and as a writer at WMCA Radio in New York. In June 1963, he became the youngest correspondent ever hired by ABC Radio News, working on the daily Flair Reports program. As a result of his covering the Kennedy assassination in 1963 with Charles Osgood, the national news audience took notice of him. [3] He was scheduled to do a short report, but a delay during the crisis forced him to ad-lib for an hour and a half. [5]

In 1964, he covered his first of many presidential nominating conventions. He also began covering the civil rights movement in Selma, Alabama. ABC officials were impressed by Koppel's ability to clarify issues using plain language. [5] Starting in 1966, he was made the ABC News correspondent during the Vietnam War, and it was during that period he changed from broadcasting over radio to doing so on national television. [3] He accepted the assignment only after the network agreed to send his wife and their two children to Hong Kong so they could be nearby. [3] Before going he took a course to learn the Vietnamese language. [3]

He returned in 1968 to cover the campaign of Richard Nixon, before becoming Hong Kong bureau chief, and U.S. State Department correspondent where Koppel formed a friendship with Henry Kissinger. [3] According to Nixon assistant John Ehrlichman, Koppel's friendship with Kissinger was partly due to their similar backgrounds, as they both had Jewish parents who were refugees from Hitler, and both emigrated to America in their youth. [3]

Koppel was among those traveling to China with U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1972. He spoke about this with the USC U.S.-China Institute for their Assignment: China documentary series on American media coverage of China. [9] Koppel likened the trip to a "journey to the dark side of the moon." By 1975, he was anchoring ABC Evening News on Saturdays, and he continued to file reports for ABC Radio. [10]

Koppel would often report on the State Department's foreign conferences, as when he traveled with Kissinger during his meetings in Egypt and Israel in 1975. [3] He said about Kissinger: "I have a high regard for Henry. He has a first-class mind. A half hour with him gives me a better insight into a foreign policy question than hours with others." [3]

In the mid-1970s, Koppel took a year off from his news anchor position to stay home with his children so that his wife could complete her education at Georgetown Law School. That decision by Koppel upset ABC News president Roone Arledge, who then dropped Koppel as news anchor when he returned to the network. [7]

In April 1979, he was lead reporter for an eleven-segment series, "Second to None?", which focused on explaining the dangers of nuclear war. He did his own research and wanted to present "complex material to an audience that hasn't paid much attention in the past but must in the future . . . if there is to be a future." [5] For the series he received an Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award. [5]

Nelson Mandela interview

In 1990, Koppel interviewed Nelson Mandela in a US-style town hall meeting situation. [11]

Host of Nightline

Koppel became known for his work as the host of a late night news program called Nightline . The program originated as a series of special reports about the 444-day long and legendary Iran hostage crisis, during which Iranian militants held 52 Americans captive, beginning in early November 1979. At first, the program was called The Iran Crisis: America Held Hostage, and was hosted by Frank Reynolds. Koppel eventually joined Reynolds as co-anchor. In March 1980, the program evolved into Nightline, with Koppel as its host. [12] In 1990, ABC News ran a one-hour special called "The Best of Nightline with Ted Koppel." [13] Koppel spent twenty-five years anchoring the program, before leaving ABC (and leaving as host of Nightline) in late November 2005. [14]

While hosting Nightline, Koppel also hosted a series of special programs called Viewpoint, beginning in 1981, which provided media criticism and analysis. It was envisioned by ABC News Vice President George Watson as a way to address any media bias that viewers might believe that they encountered on the network. Broadcast before a live audience, it provided viewers with a chance to question how stories were reported or critique television news. [15] Viewpoint was broadcast sporadically, from 1981 until 1997.

Some liberal groups suggested that Koppel was a conduit for the government's point of view and accused him of favoring conservatives when selecting guests. [16] In the late 1980s, the progressive media criticism organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) claimed that policymakers and ex-officials dominated the Nightline guest list, with critics of foreign policy less visible. In 1987, Newsweek called him the "quintessential establishment journalist". Koppel responded that "We are governed by the president and his cabinet and their people. And they are the ones who are responsible for our foreign policy, and they are the ones I want to talk to". [17]

Departure from Nightline

Ted Koppel at the 62nd Annual Peabody Awards Ted Koppel at the 62nd Annual Peabody Awards.jpg
Ted Koppel at the 62nd Annual Peabody Awards

On November 22, 2005, Koppel stepped down from Nightline after 25 years with the program and left ABC after 42 years with the network. His final Nightline broadcast did not feature clips highlighting memorable interviews and famous moments from his tenure as host, as is typical when an anchor retires. Instead, the show replayed an episode of Nightline with Koppel's 1995 interviews with retired Brandeis University sociology professor Morrie Schwartz, who was dying of Lou Gehrig's disease). [18]

Koppel in 2008 Tedkoppelpic.jpg
Koppel in 2008

Following Nightline Koppel has taken on a number of roles which span various formats of news media:

Discovery Channel

Following his departure from Nightline Koppel formed a three-year partnership with Discovery Communications as managing editor of the Discovery Channel. While at Discovery, Koppel produced several lengthy documentaries on a variety of subjects including a 2008 four-hour miniseries on China, which Koppel "ranks with some of the work that [he is] most proud of over the years." [27] The four-part documentary, called The People's Republic of Capitalism, is an extensive look at the fast-changing country. It takes a look at the role of Chinese consumers in the growing yet communist economy. [28]

Koppel and Discovery Communications parted ways in November, 2008, terminating their contract six months early, prompting rumors that Koppel would be hired for NBC's Meet the Press . Koppel stated that he was not interested in the job. [27]

Honors and awards

Koppel returns to Syracuse University regularly as a guest speaker. He was a member of the student-run WAER and keeps in touch with the student media at Syracuse. [35] He is a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. [36]

Emmy Awards

Personal life

In 1962, Koppel became a naturalized citizen of the United States and married Grace Anne Dorney. [38] [ not in citation given ]

They have four children: Andrea (a former journalist), Deirdre, Andrew, and Tara. Andrew Koppel was found dead in an apartment in New York City on May 31, 2010, reportedly after a day-long drinking binge; a post mortem toxicology report identified illicit drugs. [39]

Koppel speaks German and French, in addition to his native English.

He is a longtime friend of Henry Kissinger. Both of them moved to the United States as children. Along with former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Kissinger was the most frequent guest on Nightline. [17] In an interview, Koppel commented, "Henry Kissinger is, plain and simply, the best secretary of state we have had in 20, maybe 30 years – certainly one of the two or three great secretaries of state of our century," and added, "I’m proud to be a friend of Henry Kissinger. He is an extraordinary man. This country has lost a lot by not having him in a position of influence and authority". [40]

In 1993, Koppel and his wife paid $2.7 million for 16 acres overlooking the Potomac River in Potomac, Maryland. [41] They sued to hold their neighbors to an agreement to limit the size of the houses in the neighborhood to 10,000 sq ft (930 m2). [41]

See also

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Preceded by
Frank Reynolds
Nightline anchor
March 24, 1980 – November 22, 2005
Succeeded by
Terry Moran, Cynthia McFadden, and Martin Bashir