... And he may have saved thousands of lives in the process.
It was early September of 1961, and Hurricane Carla was making its way toward the Texas coast. Television stations, back then, didn't have the radar systems for storm forecasting so familiar to us today, which meant that the public at large didn't have a strong sense of a storm's path or strength until they were actually in it. So when Carla came raging toward Galveston Island, Texas, people were staying put -- despite evacuation orders from the U.S. Weather Bureau.
A young reporter, native to Texas but new to TV, had a hunch that the storm would be big. But he wasn't sure how to prove it. So the reporter turned to technology: He took a camera crew to the U.S. Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) office in downtown Galveston, which featured a cutting-edge WSR-57 radar console. Seeing the size of the coming storm, he convinced the bureau staff to let him broadcast, live, from the office. And he asked a Weather Bureau meteorologist to draw him a rough outline of the Gulf of Mexico on a transparent sheet of plastic; during the broadcast, he held that drawing over the computer's black-and-white radar display to give his audience a sense both of Carla's size and of the location of the storm's eye. As CBS plugged into the broadcast, that audience suddenly became a national one.