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When a 26-year-old Tom Brokaw took his first job for NBC, anchoring the late news for NBC's Los Angeles owned station KNBC, he marveled at the names associated with the West Coast NBC studios.
“Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” filmed there. Johnny Carson soon moved his show there. A young Michael Jackson came through. One day Brokaw saw John Wayne ambling down the hall. (“I watch every night, kid,” the Duke told him.)
Almost half a century later, more than 600 journalists go to work in a state-of-the-art NBC building in Los Angeles and marvel at another name — Brokaw’s.
NBC News announced Monday that it will name a new, 150,000-square-foot broadcast center for the longtime anchor of “NBC Nightly News.” It will be called the Brokaw News Center.
“I was a little overwhelmed,” Brokaw said by phone last week. “It was almost surreal when they told me.”
He said that he owed anything he has accomplished to the great work of others, from reporters and film editors to lighting technicians to messengers.
The Brokaw News Center will house the West Coast operations of NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC and Telemundo News, plus KNBC, where Brokaw joined the company.
NBC said in a statement that it plans to invest $1.6 billion in production and tourism at its West Coast operation, which also includes Universal Studios movie company and the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.
Brokaw, 74, stepped down from “Nightly News” in 2004, after 22 years as anchor. He is now an NBC News special correspondent.
Brokaw, who interviewed both Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian president Vladimir Putin during his tenure on “Nightly News,” offered his thoughts on the crisis in Ukraine.
“I’m a child of the Cold War,” he said. “This is a very big deal.”
He added, speaking of Putin: “This is a KGB agent who has enormous ambitions, and believes that Russia, a proud and ancient civilization, needs to be paid more respect. He tests you constantly.”
In February, Brokaw announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer but said that his doctors are encouraged by his progress.
“I’m in a very good treatment program,” he said in the interview last week. “I’m confident it’s going to turn out well. It’s going to take some time. And I’m still a very lucky guy. I just have to be patient.”