Paul Duke, whose storytelling skills and journalistic evenhandedness set the tone for the venerable public television show “Washington Week in Review,” died July 18 of leukemia in Washington, D.C. He was 78.
He was already a political news veteran — having worked for The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and NBC — in 1974 when he began his two-decade stint as the show’s moderator.
Now called “Washington Week,” the Friday night program featuring journalists discussing the week’s news is the Public Broadcasting Service’s longest running news program.
Born in Richmond, Va., Duke delivered newscasts for a local radio station as a teenager. After graduating from the University of Richmond in 1947, he covered sports for the AP. But he was soon reporting on the state’s brewing civil rights issues, which took him to the AP’s Washington bureau in 1957.
For The Wall Street Journal, he covered Capitol Hill from 1959 to 1963 as well as the 1960 presidential campaign. After a decade of congressional reporting for NBC, Duke joined public television in 1974.
During his time at “Washington Week,” the show earned an Emmy and saw its average audience climb from 1.5 million to 4.6 million by the time Duke retired in 1994.
Duke briefly returned in 1999 to resume moderator duties after his successor was fired. One of his final public television projects was a 2000 documentary called “The Great Campaign of 1960.”
He is survived by his wife Janet, a son, a stepdaughter and a stepgrandchild.