After 22 years, "CBS Sunday Morning" host Charles Osgood decides it's time to be driftin' along

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NEW YORK >> Consider this a tribute to a weekend TV institution:

"This 'Sunday Morn' left us forlorn.

Charlie Osgood's retiring as host.

For 22 years, he's had no peers.

Viewers love him from coast to coast."

As a poem, this doesn't hold a candle to the light verse Osgood has penned for his audience (He is regarded as the poet laureate of CBS News). But perhaps it sums up the way many members of his "CBS News Sunday Morning" flock received his announcement that he will bid them farewell next month.

Osgood announced his scheduled exit on Sunday's broadcast. The Sept. 25 edition will be a tribute to his legacy on and off "Sunday Morning." But after that, he won't be absent from the program, he assured viewers, explaining he will be on hand for occasional appearances.

"For years now, people — even friends and family — have been asking me why I continue doing this, considering my age," the 83-year-old Osgood said in his brief concluding remarks. "It's just that it's been such a joy doing it! ... It's been a great run, but after nearly 50 years at CBS ... the time has come."

And then he sang a few wistful bars from a favorite folk song: "So long, it's been good to know you. I've got to be driftin' along."

No successor has been named. Among those under consideration are reportedly "Sunday Morning" colleagues Jane Pauley, Anthony Mason and Lee Cowan.

Meanwhile, the program continues to be a ratings leader. With a year-to-date audience of nearly 6 million viewers, it consistently tops rival Sunday morning news shows.

Osgood "has one of the most distinctive voices in broadcasting, guiding each broadcast, making sure the words were just right, and being a calming, reassuring presence to our viewers," said CBS News president David Rhodes.

He is exiting a job only one other person has held since "Sunday Morning" premiered in 1979. Charles Kuralt retired in 1994 after molding the job in his own folksy, easygoing image and hosting for 15 years.

Osgood seemingly had an impossible act to follow. But with his folksy erudition and his slightly bookish, bow-tied style, he immediately clicked with viewers who continued to embrace the program as an unhurried TV magazine that, as before, seemed defined only by its host's, and staff's, curiosity.

Even then, Osgood was already a CBS veteran.

In 1967, he took a job as reporter on the CBS-owned New York news radio station. Then, one fateful weekend, he was summoned to fill in at the anchor desk for the TV network's Saturday newscast.

In 1971, he joined the CBS network.

Since then, he has proved to be a broadcaster who can write essays and light verse as well as report hard news, a man who has continued to work in both radio and television with equal facility. (He once described himself as "a radio guy who finally stopped being terrified of the camera.")

He has been an anchor and reporter for many CBS News broadcasts on both TV and radio. And he has long delivered "The Osgood File" on radio, and will continue to do so, where, if the mood strikes, he might offer up a poem or sing another song.


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