Video: The Day TV News Changed Forever: ‘Uncle Bunky’ Remembers JFK’s Death
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- For 2 decades, nearly every child in Northeast Mississippi remembers the famous cartoon characters and pleasant face of “Uncle Bunky.”
“I started in 1958, when we were out in the pasture. There was about 8 of us that were on the air. The manager wanted a kids show and I did that show from 1958 to 1976. We did it 5 days a week, 12 kids on there for 20 years,” said Robert “Bunky” Williams.
Reminiscing about “Funtime with Uncle Bunky,” he remembers the laughs and smiles from the young faces who appeared on WCBI. However, one somber day stands out in his memory.
” John F. Kennedy. That was probably one of the saddest days you’ll ever remember. I was looking at a film in the back room that we were going to fill in that night and when there was a bulletin, the AP and UPI would go ‘ding ding ding ding’ and both of them were going wild. I could hear them but I wasn’t paying it that much attention. Then, one of the engineers came back and said, ‘Bunky you better cut your TV on, the President’s been shot.’ So I cut it on and Walter Cronkite was just saying that the President had passed away. CBS took over and we had to keep the crews here just in case CBS gave it back to us,” said Williams.
Bob Huffaker was a young reporter at Dallas’s CBS Affiliate KRLD in 1963. President Kennedy’s assassination changed the face of television news forever. From Kennedy’s shooting to the burial, non-stop coverage appeared throughout the nation for four days.
” This is the day that the news went live on television. It was a tragedy that was difficult to cover. As a reporter, it broke my heart,” said Huffaker.
But it was something journalists felt obligated to do.
“We knew that the American people needed us then more than ever. And we knew that we had a trust to keep. So we did our best,” said Huffaker.
No matter who or where you were, for Williams and his entire generation, Americans will never forget the day they lost their leader.
“They had the Republicans and Democrats fussing and all of that, but, everybody loved the man. You just couldn’t believe it was happening, it was something else,” said Williams.
After leaving WCBI News, “Uncle Bunky” worked for the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department as an investigator for child abuse cases.