A Day with Golden-Voiced Ted Williams

Ted Williams holds a sign advertising his smooth radio voice near a highway ramp in Columbus, Ohio, in a photo taken in late December, 2010. AP Photo/Columbus Dispatch, Doral Chenoweth III

Ted Williams holds a sign advertising his smooth radio voice near a highway ramp in Columbus, Ohio, in a photo taken in late December 2010.
AP Photo
(CBS) COLUMBUS, Ohio - What a whirlwind. At least that's how the last 13 hours have seemed to me. I can't imagine what it has been like for Ted Williams.

CBS News sent me to Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday night to cover the odyssey of Ted Williams. For anyone who has been detached from the online-echo-chamber for the last 24 hours, he's the homeless man with a golden voice who was discovered on a street corner here in Columbus.

Scroll down to watch the Columbus Dispatch video of photographer Doral Chenoweth discovering Williams.

I'd never heard of Williams when they told me about the assignment. While I was on my way to the airport I chatted with a couple of friends on the phone who'd already followed Williams through Facebook.

By late afternoon Wednesday the clip of Williams standing on the street with his announcer-quality voice had more than 5 million page views online. The clip was posted Monday.

On Tuesday Williams said he was panhandling for spare change on the street. Wednesday, if we are to believe the offers that were made on the air, he could be juggling job offers from everyone from the Cleveland Cavaliers - who offered not only a job but a house - to MTV to NFL Films.

We started our morning tagging along with Williams at WNCI radio here in Columbus. The hosts, Jimmy and Dave, of a morning talk program had invited Williams on their broadcast.

We were there bright and early - I think I got about three hours of sleep - and landed the first network morning exclusive with Williams for "The Early Show," beating out "Today." The competition to get some time with Williams after he became an overnight sensation was fierce.

This man, who was standing alone on the street corner just 24 hours ago, was hounded by news crews all day. We were jockeying for time with him along with NBC News, all of the local stations, and some of the magazine shows such as "Inside Edition."

I lost track of how many people asked me for Williams' number - or his agent's number. Yes, he already has an agent of sorts. I saw a number of job offers and pitches come through on my iPhone for Williams as people seemed desperate to reach this man who cars just whizzed past a day earlier.

It's a wonderful story and a crazy one. It shows a dream beating out the odds, perseverance, and yes - perhaps it's a little cheesy to say - a glimpse of the American dream, too. It also shows the wild world and epic rise and celebrity possible in a world where videos - and maybe even lives - can go viral.

  • Seth Doane

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