Jim Kitchell was not only a leader in television news, he was truly the pioneer in covering rockets, missiles and spaceflight for television.
This Chronicler was responsible for not only getting the first journalists on America's military launch facilities but he brought the first live television cameras to the first of three Air Force Thor-Able rocket flights to the moon.
Kitchell, the director of NBC's legendary Huntley-Brinkley report, began bringing television and radio microphones to Cape Canaveral in 1957. He and his crew were kept outside the missile center's gates and forced to cover the early, secret launches from Cape Canaveral's jetties and beaches.
In a sit down with the eastern missile range commander, Maj. Gen. Donald Yates, Kitchell negotiated an agreement to permit reporters to cover launches on Cape Canaveral itself. The agreement called for the press to be escorted and phones for reporters not to be turned on until launch, or until, as the agreement stated, "fire in the tail."
Kitchell was assigned as the executive producer for NBC News' space coverage and headed the NBC space unit's coverage of projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
His unit received the Emmy for its coverage of the first Apollo lunar landings and Kitchell found himself general manager of news for NBC in the early 1980s.
Never one to "fly a desk" Kitchell left NBC to become vice president for Ted Turner's launching of the Cable News Network (CNN) and Turner's super station, WTBS, in Atlanta.
Kitchell retired from Turner Broadcasting in 1994.