Robert Chandler, a former CBS News executive who helped launch “60 Minutes” and had a supervisory role over the TV newsmagazine in its early years, died Thursday in Pittsfield, Mass. He was 80.
Chandler joined CBS News in 1963 as director of information services and later served as vice president in charge of public affairs broadcasts. He was an early proponent of the “60 Minutes” format and helped put Don Hewitt’s concept for the pioneering program on the air.
“In my more than half a century at CBS News, I don’t recall anyone having a better fix on what ’60 Minutes’ should be than Bob Chandler,” said Hewitt in a statement.
In the late 1970s, as the program emerged as one of television’s highest-rated programs, Chandler was responsible for approving Hewitt’s stories and budgets. He also played a role in adding Andy Rooney to the broadcast.
“He was a good guy and a good executive. And that is hard,” said Rooney.
Chandler’s widow, Eleanor, told the Associated Press that her husband was never surprised by the enduring success of “60 Minutes.”
“I think he always thought (the program) would be a big success, and I think it had to do with the composition of reporters and Don Hewitt,” she said.
Chandler also served as director of operations for the CBS News Election Unit, where he helped create the CBS News Poll, which in 1976 partnered with the New York Times to form the New York Times-CBS News Poll.
Chandler retired from CBS in 1985 but later worked briefly at NBC News and served as executive producer of PBS documentary, “Learning in America: Schools That Work,” which premiered in 1990.
He is survived by his wife, two sons, a grandson and a brother.