August 29, 2011
Lowell Thomas. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, New York World – Telegram and Sun collection)

Lowell Thomas. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, New York World – Telegram and Sun collection)

30 Years Ago in News History: 'So Long,' Lowell Thomas

"So long, until tomorrow."

The baritone sign-off of pioneer broadcast journalist Lowell Thomas was known to millions of NBC and CBS radio listeners from 1930 to 1976. When he died on Aug. 29, 1981, he left a defining mark in news history.

Thomas started his career in print at the Chicago Evening Journal and later experimented with other media forms. During World War I, he went overseas to film the war for American audiences.

While in the Middle East, Thomas met a British Army captain named T.E. Lawrence. Thomas profiled Lawrence's activities in the Arabian desert in a film he titled "With Lawrence in Arabia." The film was a hit and made Thomas and "Lawrence of Arabia" internationally famous.

Thomas hosted a regular radio broadcast — "Lowell Thomas and the News" — from 1930 until 1976. The program was first on NBC and CBS, then later only on CBS. He narrated newsreels for Fox Movietone News for 17 years, beginning in 1935. Thomas also delivered the first regularly scheduled TV news broadcast in 1940.

Later in his career, Thomas formed a group of broadcast stations that would become known as Capital Cities. The company expanded through the years, and bought ABC in 1985. ABC is now owned by Disney.

Thomas was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1989 and is currently featured in the Newseum's database of pioneering news journalists.

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