Harold Dow Broke Nebraska Broadcasting Color Barrier

OMAHA: Harold Dow, the 62-year-old CBS correspondent who died Saturday morning from a reported asthma attack, was the first African American broadcast correspondent on the air in Nebraska. Dow joined ABC affiliate KETV-TV in Omaha in 1968 when racial tensions in the Midwestern city and across the country were at their peak. Lee Terry, Sr., was the news director.

“I used to go home at midnight after the newscast and there would be Harold Dow with a tape recorder, and he insisted I listen to it and give it a critique,” Terry said.

Dow recounted his start at KETV five years ago at the Omaha Black Music Hall of Fame dinner.

“Lee put me on the air on the 6 o’clock news the very first day I arrived,” he said. “When I got off the air after I stumbled through it, the switchboard was all lit up and all these reporters were trying to explain to the Cornhuskers what had just happened.”

Terry said he and Dow received death threats. He urged the new hire to soldier on. Dow worked in Omaha for four years before moving to CBS. He would go on to interview O.J. Simpson in the wake of Nicole Simpson’s murder, and he was said to be the only reporter to interview Patty Hearst after her abduction.

Dow won the Gracie Allen Award of the Association of Women in Radio and Television in 2001. He received a Peabody for his “48 Hours” report on runaways, and a Robert F. Kennedy Award for a report on public housing. Dow collected five Emmy Awards, including one in 1996 for a story on American troop movement into Bosnia, and one in 1989 for distinguished reporting on his coverage of the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster. He won the RTNDA’s Edward R. Murrow Award for a “48 Hours” profile of Patti LaBelle and a third-place award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

Dow was born in Hackensack, N.J., and attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He is survived by his wife Kathy and their three children.

SeeDow Remembered as Nebraska Broadcasting Pioneer

-- Deborah D. McAdams