The Man Who Broke the News About JFK
50 years ago today the news of JFK’s assassination spread throughout the world by young radio reporters covering a once-in-a-life-time event. What they didn’t know is the impact covering that story would have for the rest of their lives. Asked to retell what they did, how they felt, what they knew and when they knew it each November 22 for the next five decades.
Gary Delaune is one of those guys. He was a 30-year-old anchor preparing for the one o’clock news at KLIF in Dallas with plans to rush out to see the President’s speech immediately after.
“I was in the studio by myself at the time. I had just done the Noon news. That’s when I got a phone tip asking me what I knew about the shots being fired at the motorcade and both Kennedy and Connelly being hit.”
Delaune was a guest on the Radio Stuff podcast.
“I signaled the DJ and at about 12:36:55 during a song called the Chiffon’s “I Have a Boyfriend,” 1:38 deep into the 45 r.p.m., the old-style record, we broke in and had the bulletin and of course at that point on it was almost incessant.”
Now, 80-years-old, Delaune remembers every detail, every character, everything except Saturday. He reported all day long, but doesn’t remember doing any of it. Sunday, was different. He was witness to the Lee Harvey Oswald perp walk and assassination by Jack Ruby.
“He was on one side of the cameraman and I was on the other with Bob Baxley, the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer. As Oswald came out Jack took a step and a half from the crowd of newsmen and pumped him full right into Oswald’s gut.”
Jack was no stranger to Dulaune and was even hanging around the day of JFK’s shooting.
“Jack Ruby was at the Dallas Morning News and he serpentined his way through the streets and got to KLIF. He was a groupie. You know, one of those guys who is a hanger on. He wanted to be somebody and hung around KLIF and radio stations. And he started answering the phone, ‘Jack Ruby, KLIF News’ – anything he could.”
Delaune’s full account and complete retrospective of radio’s role in covering the events that weekend are explored in this week’s Radio Stuff podcast.