"CBS Evening News" director ending 51-year CBS career at the top

Behind the curtain of this broadcast sits a wizard named Eric Shapiro. For as long as any of us can remember, he's been pulling the levers here -- making the “CBS Evening News” look like the simple, effortless program that it isn't.

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Eric Shapiro at work in the "CBS Evening News" Control Room.
CBS
 It's a talent -- a career -- 51 years in the making. But now, director Eric Shapiro will be retiring at the end of Friday's newscast.

Eric said, "This really is the only job I have ever had."

Eric started here in 1963 -- in the CBS mail room, of all places. He was the kid who delivered mail to the “Evening News with Walter Cronkite.” And it was then and there that Eric first saw legendary director Don Hewitt in action.

 

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Eric Shapiro at work in the "CBS Evening News" Control Room.
CBS
 

"This charismatic character who starts barking out commands, and I looked at him and I thought, 'That's what I want to do. I want that job,'" said Eric.

It was lofty goal for a lowly mail boy, but Eric eventually pulled it off -- much better than he pulled off that ‘70s mustache. 

 

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Eric Shapiro and his mustache
CBS
 

 Over the years, he has directed coverage of 11 presidential elections, four papal elections, and an untold number of once-in-a-lifetime events.

But Eric himself never became old news. Even now at 68 -- while many people his age can't even dial a smartphone -- Eric has somehow stayed ahead of all this technology. 

 He really is as vibrant today as he was in black-and-white. Which makes you wonder -- why is this even happening now?

Eric explained, "I would rather leave wanting more than leave disappointed that I should have left sooner."

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Eric Shapiro
CBS
 Timing a retirement is never clockwork. And although it's certainly better to leave by free will than invitation, as Eric illustrates, there's a cost in quitting a job you're still good at. "I cannot imagine having spent these last 51 years in a more rewarding and satisfying career,” Eric said. “I love what I do."

And there's the rub -- for any true great who goes out on top. 

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  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.

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