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Archives on the Air 269: The Today Show – Hugh Downs papers

Millions of people watch the early morning Today Show broadcast on NBC. The nationally syndicated program has been described as a morning newspaper in broadcast form.

The show got its start in 1952. Ten years later, Hugh Downs became the host.

Under Downs’ leadership, the show covered major news stories and issues of the day. There were special interest pieces on topics like aging, mental health and human organ transplants. Authors, celebrities and heads of state all made appearances.

Downs hosted the show for nine years. He and a crew of 60 staff broadcast through the turbulent era of the Vietnam War, civil rights demonstrations and political assassinations.

In 1965, the show was the first television program to be transmitted live by satellite from Europe to the United States.

Learn more about the history of The Today Show in Hugh Downs papers at UW’s American Heritage Center.