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Interview with Aubrey Morris, April 8, 2009

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:20 - Attending the University of Georgia

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Partial Transcript: We are delighted today to have as our guest Aubrey Morris, former Atlanta Journal reporter and Dean of the Atlanta Radio Newsmen.

Segment Synopsis: Morris talks about attending the University of Georgia, where he became the editor of the school's yearbook before graduating and going back to work for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He mentions arriving in Athens, where his article about a student getting hit by a bus was published in a local paper.

Keywords: Athens Banner-Herald; Grady School of Journalism; Roswell; UGA; annual

00:09:03 - Mayor Hartsfield

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned Mayor Hartsfield. Tell us a little about Mayor Hartsfield.

Segment Synopsis: Morris tells stories about Atlanta's well-connected, ill-tempered Mayor William B. Hartsfield, a member of the Grid Iron Secret Society and a personal friend of Coca-Cola president, Bob Woodruff.

Keywords: Grid Iron Club

00:18:10 - Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport

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Partial Transcript: Mayor Hartsfield was very interested in aviation.

Segment Synopsis: Morris recalls how Mayor Hartsfield turned Atlanta into a business and travel hub by establishing Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport with the help of Delta CEO Collett Woolman and Eastern Airlines CEO Eddie RIckenbacker.

Keywords: Board of Aldermen; Candler Field

00:24:34 - Orly Airport crash

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Partial Transcript: Speaking of flights to Paris, you were on hand to cover the story of the Orly crash that took so many Atlanta lives.

Segment Synopsis: Morris discusses a plane crash that killed numerous members of the Atlanta Art Association, which had been studying European art in Paris. He talks about broadcasting the names of the victims, travelling with Mayor Allen to the crash site, and helping organize a memorial service at the American Cathedral in Paris.

Keywords: Air France; Ivan Allen; W.O. Duvall

00:39:40 - Fire at the Winecoff Hotel

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Partial Transcript: One of the stories you covered while you were with the Atlanta Journal was the tragic Winecoff fire.

Segment Synopsis: Morris recalls a fire that destroyed the Winecoff Hotel and killed over 100 guests, including many members of the YMCA and YWCA. He also mentions Bill Key, a reporter whose storytelling abilities Morris admired greatly, and a survivor of the Winecoff fire who showed gratitude to firemen on the fire's 40th anniversary.

Keywords: Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Ellis Hotel; fire

00:47:19 - Career in radio / Georgia politcians

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Partial Transcript: Well, after 13 years with the Journal, Elmo Ellis lured you away into radio, and you and Elmo Ellis came up with probably the first full-fledged radio news department in the city of Atlanta.

Segment Synopsis: Morris talks about leaving the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to create a public information office at the Georgia Department of Transportation. Morris also discusses leading the WSB radio news department. Morris comments on the role of Georgia politicians in U.S. foreign policy and war.

Keywords: Carl Vinson; Governor Marvin Griffin; Herman Talmadge; Open Mic; Richard B. Russell; Rural Roads Authority

01:00:46 - Reporting on Atlanta's integration

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Partial Transcript: The dramatic change of history in this country began, in my view, at the end of World War II.

Segment Synopsis: Morris discusses integration, praising the progressive politicians who branded Atlanta "the city too busy to hate." He also mentions black leaders of the Atlanta University Center Consortium and talks about reporting on Martin Luther King Jr.'s first public speech, which was controversial among WSB listeners.

Keywords: Martin Luther King; civil rights; segregation; universities

01:08:24 - Covering Georgia schools' integregation

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Partial Transcript: You were active then in the integration of the University of Georgia and the schools of the state.

Segment Synopsis: Morris talks about reporting on the integration of the University of Georgia. He also discusses covering the Sibley Commission, a forum to discuss integration of Georgia public schools.

Keywords: General Assembly Committee on Schools; Governor Ernest Vandiver; compliance; desegregation; federal order; local option

01:17:18 - Presidential interviews

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Partial Transcript: Aubrey, it's been said of you that you would go anywhere to get an interview.

Segment Synopsis: Morris recalls interviewing President Carter in the men's room to get an early scoop on the Iran hostage crisis. He mentions speaking with Presidents Truman and Eisenhower as well as interviewing Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Salassie at Martin Luther King Jr.'s grave.

Keywords: diplomacy; politics; presidents

01:34:32 - Modern journalism

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk a minute about WSB.

Segment Synopsis: Morris talks about WSB's transition from news to talk radio, saying that radio is "showbiz" and that listeners need variety to be entertained. Morris also comments on informed media consumption and the growth of the news industry.

Keywords: communications; education; entertainment; talk radio