It makes sense that Charles Kuralt is retiring from CBS News to finish writing a book-he’s just too thoughtful for TV. In a sea of millionaire anchors, 10- second sound bites, and tabloid exposes, Kuralt, 59, has been an oasis of sensible, unpretentious, friendly calm. On April 3, after 37 years with CBS- including two decades of ”On the Road” reports and 15 years as host of Sunday Morning-he’ll anchor his final Sunday and will doubtless exhibit all the traits that have marked him as a man wonderfully out of sync with his medium. Consider:
He never dresses well. Always a bit rumpled in khaki or in some ill-fitting sport jacket, the balding, unaerobicized Kuralt favors substance over style, the story over the reporter.
He cares about words. In Kuralt-ese, schoolchildren picking pumpkins achieve ”bright orange fufillment”; a traffic cop with intricate hand signals becomes ”the Toscanini at Liberty and Wood.”
He doesn’t watch the clock. Whether walking the Minnesota woods with the world’s foremost canoe builder or devoting almost an entire Sunday show to a Picasso exhibit, Kuralt sets a pace for pondering.
He dwells on quiet, unsung heroes. Like the North Carolina man who lent bicycles to kids who couldn’t afford them, or the Nebraska woman who had set up a canteen so that WWII servicemen passing through her train station would get hot coffee, pie, and encouragement.
He celebrates silence. At the close of each Sunday Morning, Kuralt graciously signs off, and the camera focuses on nature for a few meditative minutes-no people, and no sound except that of marshes, meadows, and streams.
The silence Kuralt leaves next Sunday will be hard to fill.