Frank Reynolds · 2001
“To Help People Understand What’s Going On”
A broadcast news veteran with a career that spanned more than 30 years, Frank Reynolds connected us to live news events that defined an era: space shuttle launches, national political conventions, an assassination attempt on a U.S. President. At the time of Reynolds death in 1983, he was the chief anchor of ABCs World News Tonight and was described by the president of ABC News as, “Representing journalism at its best. He reflected our highest achievements and expectations and served his profession with enormous integrity.”
Frank Reynolds was born in East Chicago, Indiana and attended high school in Hammond. A history major at Wabash College, Reynolds left his studies in 1942 to join the Army. He served in Europe during WWII, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant and earning a Purple Heart before his discharge in 1945.
Returning to the Midwest, he launched his career in news broadcasting at radio station WJOB in Hammond in 1946. His duties included both news announcing and sports casting.
In 1949, he left WJOB to join a Chicago television station, WBKB, which was later taken over by CBS and re-named WBBM-TV. During his 11-year tenure there, he covered both local and national stories and produced several news specials.
Reynolds loved to travel and his many trips abroad resulted in a number of special television reports on important events and areas around the world. He toured Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Algeria in the late 1950s and produced a television special for which he won a World Understanding Award from the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations.
In 1963, he joined the ABC affiliate in Chicago, also called WBKB, where he was featured on “Frank Reynolds and the News.” During the summer of 1964, he was a prominent member of ABCs political convention coverage team and served as the network’s Midwest reporter for both the primary and general elections. In March of 1965, he became the only Chicago television reporter to travel to South Vietnam to report from the battlefront. That same year, he took a 50 percent pay cut to become an ABC network correspondent in Washington.
His first stint at anchoring the evening news took place in the late sixties, ending in December of 1970. For the next eight years, he covered major stories for ABC News and for thousands of families across the country became the well-known connection to important events as they unfolded live on television.
In 1978, he returned to the anchor chair, sharing duties with Peter Jennings and Max Robinson, which led him to characterize his career as “Lazarus-like.” In 1979, he won the George Peabody Award for excellence in broadcast journalism, but humbly chose to describe his job in simple terms: “To help people understand what’s going on.”
In April of 1983, Reynolds contracted acute viral hepatitis from a blood transfusion. During his absence from the anchor desk, ratings of World News Tonight dropped significantly, an illustration of his importance to the broadcast. While being treated for hepatitis, he learned that he also suffered from a form of bone cancer. Reynolds passed away on July 20, 1983. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.