Online Collection
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"When the News Went Live" Program

Object Number: 2007.001.0087
Category: Oral Histories
Oral history interview subject: Robert Huffaker
Oral history interview subject: Bill Mercer
Oral history interview subject: George Phenix
Oral history interview subject: Wes Wise
Type of Object: Oral history
Dimensions: 63 Minutes
Medium: DVD-R
Description
Videotaped oral history program titled "When the News Went Live". Participants include former KRLD-TV and Radio employees Bob Huffaker, Bill Mercer, George Phenix, and Wes Wise. This panel discussion focused on their memories of the Kennedy assassination weekend and promoted their book, "When the News Went Live" (2004). The authors signed books in the lobby of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza after the program.

A KRLD police reporter in 1963, Bob Huffaker broadcast the motorcade at Main & Akard streets in downtown Dallas and later covered events at Parkland Memorial Hospital. He then reported live from Dallas police headquarters on KRLD and CBS and was standing a few feet from Jack Ruby when Ruby shot Oswald. In 1964, Huffaker covered the Jack Ruby trial.

Bill Mercer was a news and sportscaster at KRLD-TV and Radio in 1963. At the midnight press conference for Lee Harvey Oswald, he informed Oswald that he had been charged with the murder of President Kennedy.

A news photographer for KRLD-TV, George Phenix was at Dallas Love Field and Parkland Memorial Hospital on November 22, 1963. On Sunday, November 24th, he filmed the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Mayor of Dallas from 1971 to 1976, in 1963 Wes Wise was a reporter for KRLD-TV in Dallas and president of the Dallas Press Club. He spoke with Jack Ruby in Dealey Plaza the day after the assassination. Previously, in October 1963, Wise captured on film the infamous attack on U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson in Dallas. From 1992 to 1997, Wise served as a consultant and primary interviewer for the Museum's Oral History Project.

Program conducted at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza on November 1, 2007. The program is one hour and three minutes long.

The video attached to this record is an excerpt. The entire program is available in our Reading Room to on-site researchers or by submitting a Rights & Reproductions Request Form.
Curator's Notes

The authors of When the News Went Live have each recorded one-on-one oral history interviews with the Museum.  In addition, as a group, these four men have participated in several book-signings and panel discussions at the Museum. - Stephen Fagin, Associate Curator

At the request of reporters the night of the assassination, Dallas Police and District Attorney Henry Wade agreed to show Oswald to the news media in what today would be called a photo op.  Although told not to ask questions, one did and others followed as soon as Oswald answered.  As heard in the video tape of what has become known as “the midnight press conference,” KRLD reporter Bill Mercer informed Oswald he had been charged with killing President Kennedy. In response, Oswald looked surprised, for he didn’t know anything about it.

So why did Mercer think Oswald had already been charged? Dallas Police had planned to charge Oswald earlier that evening and reporters learned about those plans, but they didn’t know there had been a delay.  Oswald wasn't formally charged until about 1:30 Saturday morning, some 90 minutes after the midnight press conference ended. - Gary Mack, Curator

In mid-November 2003, I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Bob Huffaker, Bill Mercer, George Phenix and Wes Wise, working with them to review photos in the Museum’s Dallas Times Herald Collection to find images for use in their book.  The photographs sparked lots of memories for these four gentleman, and I was treated to several hours of spontaneous stories and anecdotes about the events and people seen in the images.  It was a fascinating afternoon, providing me with a new insight into the personal connections many people have with our collections. – Megan Bryant, Director of Collections & Intellectual Property

All requests for permission to reproduce, publish or broadcast materials in this collection must be submitted to the Museum's registrar, using the Rights & Reproductions Request Form. Inquiries may be sent to registrar@jfk.org.