May 14, 2004 by

Floyd Kalber


Categories: Media, Military, Writers/Editors

fkalber.jpgFloyd Kalber, an Emmy Award-winning news anchor, died on May 13 of emphysema. He was 79.
Kalber enlisted in the Army and served two years in the South Pacific during World War II. He studied journalism at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., for one semester, but dropped out to launch a career in radio.
Kalber was covering sports for a station in Peoria, Ill., in 1949, when he saw television for the very first time. The visual medium greatly appealed to him, and he returned to Omaha to learn the ropes at KMTV-TV. By the time Kalber left in 1962, he was mentoring new hires, including a 20-year-old Tom Brokaw.
Nicknamed “The Big Tuna” — because his power in the newsroom was perceived by colleagues to be as great as the power of the late Chicago mob boss Tony “Big Tuna” Acardo — Kalber was then hired by NBC News and transferred to WMAQ-TV in Chicago. He originally worked as the Midwest correspondent for “NBC Nightly News,” but within three months became the station’s principal newscaster. Kalber anchored the 10 p.m. news for the next 16 years.
Kalber left WMAQ in 1976, and traveled to New York City to write and deliver the news on the “Today” show. He continued in this position for three years, worked in NBC’s Special Projects division and retired from the network in 1981.
Kalber was living in Connecticut when he was coaxed out of retirement three years later. Chicago’s WLS-TV needed a ratings spike and he wanted to be closer to his children and grandchildren. So Kalber returned to the anchor desk, this time on the 6 p.m. slot, and propelled the ABC affiliate to the top of the ratings for 14 years. He retired for the second time in 1998.
During his 50 years in the business, Kalber won five Emmy Awards for excellence in broadcast journalism. He was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and the Silver Circle of the Chicago Television Academy.
Watch a 1967 News Broadcast

10 Responses to Floyd Kalber

  1. Mary Westlake nee Sawatzki

    I remember Floyd from my youth in Omaha, Nebraska.
    The Charles Starkweather case remains in my memory. In 1962 my family left for the West in search of a great business opportunity. I think that Floyd went off to Chicago at the same time.
    He will be missed. Condolences to his family and friends. His unique voice will be missed.

  2. JBN

    As a child in Omaha in the Fifties, I remember two TV stations: WOW, Channel 6 and KMTV, Channel 3. Channel 3 was much more “kid friendly” then, so, that’s what my friends and I watched. And in spite of the great cartoon shows and and “scary” entertainment (Gregore every afternoon), for me, the image of Channel 3 was Floyd Kalber.
    He was the most consistant face on that station. He presented the news every morning, noon and night. Often as not, it seems, he would show up on the Huntly-Brinkley Report with breaking news from the midwest. To me, Floyd Kalber set the image for TV news. There was a personal satisfaction as I watched his career rise.
    A few years ago I happened to catch his 6:00 broadcast in Chicago and it was as if I was tranported back to 1956. His command and delivery were just as they had been back in Omaha.
    My condolences to his family. Floyd Kalber was the best.

  3. Mary Sawatzki

    I remember Floyd from my youth, in Omaha, Nebraska. The Charles Starkweather case remains in my memory. In 1962 my family went to the West in search of a business opportunity. I think that Floyd went to Chicago at about the same time.
    He will be missed. Condolences to his friends and family.

  4. Larry Nelson

    My brush with greatness happened when Floyd Kalber walked into the Countryside Village Drugstore in the late 50’s or early 60’s, probably he was just getting off from duty at KMTV, which was an NBC affiliate at that time (to correct the first entry and bio). To me, a young kid (57 now) at that time, he was like a movie star. As an adult, I followed his career. I wish we had more like him today. The alphabet network newspeople on the national scene today, cannot carry his briefcase.

  5. Cleber Olympio

    I remember when I was watching the related 1967 News Broadcast, only for curiousity, in the Rich Samuel’s website. My inspiration on english reading was totally renewed. Floyd Kalber will continue to be remembered by me wherever I read an english text, to practice another skill as a radio announcer in Brazil. May God bless his family, and comfort their hearts.

  6. kathy kalber kinsella

    as floyd’s daughter, i appreciate the review of his accomplishments over the many years of his career in broadcasting…if i may make one correction…my father did not “read” the news on the Today Show…he wrote the news and then delivered it…he got up at 2:45 each morning to make the trip in to write his own copy, something that was unusual for that time…
    thanks to all who wrote…

  7. Mike Eckhart

    I met Floyd Kalber in the Fall of 1972, the father of my dearest friend and beloved Kathy. I was inspired, because we all knew him then as the voice of integrity on television. Floyd conveyed that integrity to his family, and to others he met. He was a man of the Depression, of poverty as a boy, of the orphanage, and of self-determination. There is no greater calling, I believe, than to be recognized as a man whom the rest of us rely upon to speak the truth. I am sad to read, some 500 days after the fact, of his passing. God bless him and those he left behind.

  8. Pat Hall

    Floyd hired me at KMTV, Omaha a few days after my discharge from the Navy where I had been an aerial photographer. That was the spring of 1954 and we all were in the process of inventing local TV journalism. The newsroom staff consisted of Floyd, Dick Trembath, myself and Dale Hoagland. Helping out parttime were a number of students from Omaha U including Bob Peck, Roger Orr, Frank Schuhart, Charlie Simpson and probably others. KM was owned by the May Company of Shenandoah, Iowa and they were more than liberal with newsroom expenses. We always had access to the company airplane and flew to news events such as Eisenhower’s speech in Des Moines.
    Floyd interviewed the President at length and Trembath shot the sound-on-film with the old Auricon, neglecting to remember that he had to correct for parallax with the 6-inch lens. When we got back to Omaha with our “scoop” for the nightly news, we discovered we had 400-feet of sound-on- film of Eisenhower’s left ear!
    Speaking of the nightly news, it was always introduced by Lew Jeffrey .. I can hear it now. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It’s time for the ten o’clock news with Floyd Kalber, brought to you by the Metropolitan Utilities District.” If anything Lew was consistant. He said it the same way every night EXCEPT the night his brain slipped out of gear and he said “…brought to you by the Metropolitan U-Little-Titties district”.

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