There were a few turns in between, of course, that have put Brokaw, former anchor of NBC Nightly News, in line to accept an Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Broadcasting at WSU Tuesday, April 18.
The buzz on Brokaw is already out and growing like crazy.
"I hear he has a big following in Spokane. There are these ladies at a retirement home - we call them the Brokaw girls - who keep calling and they say 'We're all coming. We have a van and we're all coming down there,'" says Marvin Marcelo, an assistant professor of journalism at WSU and director of the annual symposium.
Talk about old-school.
Jokes aside, the Murrow Symposium strives to honor journalists who embody the "old-school" character of Edward R. Murrow, one of the university's most distinguished alums. Murrow became renowned as a war correspondent who provided compelling radio coverage of the Blitz in London during World War II.
He is most famous, thanks to the recent George Clooney movie Good Night, and Good Luck., for standing up to the bullying of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who questioned people's loyalty and patriotism in the 1950s in a political atmosphere similar to today's.
"We are looking for people who embody the thinking of Murrow -- his ethics and writing and producing news in the best way possible without succumbing to any kind of underhanded ways of doing journalism," Marcelo says. "Tom Brokaw has been involved in many reporting situations. A lot of the reporting he did during Vietnam exposed the tragedy of war."
In a press release, WSU President V. Lane Rawlins says, "Tom Brokaw is a legend in broadcast journalism in America. Like the name Edward R. Murrow, the name Brokaw is one people associate with excellence. I can think of no finer representative of the Murrow legacy."
After Vietnam, Brokaw became a White House correspondent during the Watergate scandal and, by 1983, rose to national anchor and managing editor for NBC Nightly News, a post he held for 21 years. Brokaw has also written The Greatest Generation about Second World War veterans.
Brokaw's award and acceptance speech cap two full days of the symposium - much of which is open to the public. There is an array of workshops - many featuring local or regional journalists as presenters - on April 18.
Good Night, and Good Luck. will be shown on Monday, April 17, at 7 pm ,with guests Milo Radulovich (a target of McCarthy's "red scare") and Casey Murrow, son of the late Edward R. Murrow.
The two have discussed the movie with WSU journalism students once already. Radulovich was a World War II vet and reservist going to school on the GI Bill when he was worked over by McCarthy because his father and sister were accused of Communist sympathies on evidence that would be considered laughable in normal times.
Murrow seized the story as a way to expose the paranoia and bullying behind loyalty oaths and black lists.
"A lot of eyes opened up," because of the film, Marcelo says. "We can stand in front of a class and say what he's done, but in the movie kids finally got to see what it meant, what a strong push he did to make change ... what Edward R. Murrow really stood for."
Tom Brokaw's award and acceptance speech is Tuesday, April 18, at 7:30 pm at WSU's Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, Wash. Good Night, and Good Luck., with guest speakers Milo Radulovich, Casey Murrow and Stephen J. Weiss, will be shown on Monday, April 17, at 7 pm at WSU's Compton Union Building. Both events are free. Visit wsu.edu/murrow or call (509) 335-1556.