Hans V. Kaltenborn - Journalist, radio commentator; was born on July 9, 1878 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and grew up in Merrill, Wisconsin.
Kaltenborn was heard regularly on the radio for over 30 years, beginning with CBS in 1928. He was known for his highly precise diction, his ability to ad-lib,
and his depth of knowledge of world affairs.
Kaltenborn's family moved from Milwaukee to Merrill, Wisconsin when he was 13 (or 14). After only a year at Merrill High School, Kaltenborn ran away to work in a lumber camp. Then, for five years he worked for his father in the building material business and did jobs for the local newspaper, The Merrill Advocate.
When Kaltenborn was 19, he ran away from home again, but this time to volunteer for the Spanish-American War, during which, he provided reports for the Merrill Advocate. As authors Christopher H. Sterling and John M. Kittross wrote, Kaltenborn reported on the Spanish Civil War "while hiding in a haystack between the two armies. Listeners in America could hear bullets hitting the hay above him while he spoke."
After the war, he briefly returned to The Merrill Advocate as the City Editor; but, after a few months he took off to Europe where, for the next two years, he toured Germany, England and France. Returning to the United States, Kaltenborn took a job with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in New York.
Lacking a high school diploma, Kaltenborn entered a special one-year program for journalist at Harvard College in 1903. After completing a high school equivalency exams, he was admitted as a regular student majoring in political science and recieved his BA (cum laude) in 1909.
Kaltenborn began his radio career at WEAF/New York in 1923. He was one of the first newscasters to offer commentary rather than simply relaying the day's events. Kaltenborn joined the fledging CBS Network in 1927, and his ability to speak thoughtfully at a moment's notice put him at the center of some of the biggest news stories of the 1930s and '40s.
Kaltenborn moved to NBC in 1940, where he offered news and commentary until 1951, and ulitmately retired from NBC and radio in 1955.
Kaltenborn was one of the most prominent radio commentators of his day and even interviewed Adolf Hitler just prior to the start of World War II. Kaltenborn also provided the national election night coverage for the Truman-Dewey presidential race (which he called for Dewey) and even played himself in two famous movies incuding, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939) and "The Babe Ruth Story" (1948). He was also played himself as the commentator, H.V. Kaltenborn (uncredited) for the science fiction movie, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951).
Kaltenborn was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2011.
At Merrill High School, there is a room named in his honor, The HV Kaltenborn Student Workshop (Room 103); a study space for students.
For more information on H.V. Kaltenborn, visit Wikipedia.
Above: H. V. Kaltenborn - Kaltenborn Edits the News radio news broadcast (October 4, 1939)
Above: Example ad used in local newpapers to promote the times that H.V. Kaltenborn would do his commentary on various NBC affilitate radio stations.