DALLAS (AP) — Eddie Barker, who aired the first report of President John F. Kennedy's death from an assassin's bullet, died Monday at a Dallas nursing home. He was 84.
The longtime newsman and broadcaster died after a long period of declining health, said his daughter Leslie Barker Garcia. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Barker was the longtime news director of Dallas CBS affiliates KRLD Radio and KRLD-TV (now Fox affiliate KDFW-TV) when Kennedy made his fateful 1963 visit to Dallas. He was stationed at the Dallas Trade Mart, where Kennedy was to have given a speech, when word arrived that an attempt had been made on the president's life. The motorcade raced past the Trade Mart to Parkland Memorial Hospital.
In an interview for a 2003 PBS documentary "JFK: Breaking the News," Barker recalled he was anchoring the initial television coverage of the shootings when a doctor he know told him that Kennedy was dead.
"Well, I knew this doctor, and he was big out at Parkland, and so what he had done, he just went to a phone and called the emergency room, and they said, 'Yeah, he's dead.' And so he told me, and then I went on the air and said that I'd just been told by a source that I would trust implicitly that the president was dead."
On the archival video of the moment, Barker is heard asking, "And what is your name?"
"I don't want to be identified," the man said.
"We have just been told by a member of the staff at Parkland Hospital the president is dead," Barker said, later adding that the report is unconfirmed.
In the 2003 PBS documentary, Barker said he hadn't realized that CBS had picked up the local affiliate's broadcast.
Dan Rather later confirmed the report of Kennedy's death with a priest and a doctor who were in the emergency room when the president died. Walter Cronkite reported the official confirmation a short time later.
Barker began his broadcasting career on a San Antonio radio station while still a junior in high school in 1943. He joined the KRLD news staff when its television station went on the air in 1949, eventually becoming its news director. He resigned in 1972 to launch a public relations firm and retired in 1994, but he continued to host a daily talk show on a radio station in the small town of Paris, 90 miles northeast of Dallas, until declining health forced him off the air in 2010.