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In the Newsroom

February 12, 2009
My rendezvous with Rather — circa 1983 and now

Then and now: Martin Savidge with Dan Rather in 1983 and 2009.

When he was a local television reporter in Peoria, Illinois, a young Martin Savidge met veteran journalist Dan Rather. Now, after interviewing Rather this week, the Worldfocus anchor discusses the importance of his iconic global reporting.

We asked Dan Rather to come by Worldfocus on Monday. For me it was a personal thrill, as well as a professional opportunity to better inform our audience on Afghanistan. Watch the interview here: No quick peace in Afghanistan’s long-term war.

I first met Dan as a young journalist on my second job in TV news, working for a local CBS affiliate in Peoria, Illinois. Yup, I played in Peoria! I was sent to New York and CBS along with my co-anchor, Anne Ferry, to shoot the much-coveted promotional spot — local TV people with the Dan Rather.

You can imagine for a young journalist how intimidating it might be meeting one of America’s most trusted. Before the promo shoot, he invited us into his office just to chat. He knew plenty about Peoria and especially central Illinois’ place in present and past political history. He made me feel at ease.

Later, I had a photo taken of the three of us on the set of CBS Evening News. I have kept it proudly on display in my home ever since.

For me, Rather is also synonymous to a deep commitment to international coverage, understanding that it is essential for American viewers. Americans came to know of many distant lands because Dan went there for us. His embeds with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan have become iconic, even the stuff of movies.

Rather has continued to watch Afghanistan and the rest of the world through his weekly program, “Dan Rather Reports” on HDNet. It is the kind of reporting we strive for on Worldfocus — depth and understanding. The world matters. So his insight and experience was perfect for our discussion on America’s new focus on an ancient land.

Before he left Monday, I asked Dan for a favor which he graciously granted. And we posed for a photo on the set of Worldfocus side by side.

For me, history had come full circle.

– Martin Savidge

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Now that’s a blast from the past! I look diff, too.

Smile…I just check up on you every once in a while. That’s all.


“World Focus” is an interesting and informative news program. Martin Savidge is a very intelligent anchor, and it is a real treat to get Dan Rather’s interesting and deeply insightful perspectives. PBS news programs are so refreshingly smart compared to other news programs, especially on the 24-hour news channels. Keep up the great work, and please keep bringing highly qualified guest commentators like Dan Rather on the show!


Yes “World Focus” has been quite balanced . But the only commentarist invited to talk about Israel, Alon Ben Meir, is not balanced, he is anti-Israel. We need the others point of view. As long as the palestinias and arabs, are not asked for responsibility, accountability and honesty, there will be no real solution to this problem.


I have rapidly become addicted to watching “World Focus” every night on PBS, which I find excellent in content and very balanced and objective in analysis. Moderator Martin Savidge does a good job, and I find him very professional. Keep up the good work. We need more intelligent and sober programs like yours on the air. Thank you! Roberto A. Nodal, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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