Childhood & Early Life
Aaron Brown was born on November 10, 1948, in Hopkins, Minnesota, U.S. to a Jewish family. He has three brothers and one sister. His father was in the junk business.
Bright and precocious as a child, he developed an early fascination with broadcast journalism. As a little boy he would walk around the house using a soda pop can as a microphone. Once his father took him to the local paper’s newsroom to visit a friend and the incident greatly impressed the lad. He decided that very day that he would be a journalist when he grew up.
Despite being intelligent and talented, he did not perform well in school and brought homes bad grades. His parents were worried for his future.
After graduating from high school he enrolled at the University of Minnesota as a political science major. However he didn’t stay to complete his degree and dropped out to sign up for active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard.
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Aaron Brown had already started doing radio talk shows as a teenager. Following his discharge from Coast Guard duties, he resumed his radio career and found a job as a talk show host in Minneapolis. Later on he moved to Los Angeles to try his luck.
Brown found considerable success in Los Angeles which motivated him to set his aims higher. Wishing to transition to television as well, he moved to Seattle where he was employed at a public television station.
In 1976, he was appointed as an assignment editor in KING-TV. His impressive work led to a quick promotion to the post of a reporter and later, an anchor. After a decade of working there, he moved to KIRO-TV where he stayed until late 1991. At KIRO-TV his primary responsibility was to anchor the evening newscast.
His career saw an unprecedented growth upon his move to New York City. Finding employment with ABC, he became the founding anchor of the late-night news program ‘World News Now.’
During his stint at ABC, he got the opportunity to work with the famed journalist Peter Jennings on ‘World News Tonight.’ Aaron Brown eventually became the substitute anchor for Jennings and the permanent anchor of ABC's ‘World News Tonight Saturday’ and ‘Good Morning America Sunday.’
He covered many major world events in the 1990s including the British return of Hong Kong to the Chinese government, the Columbine High School shootings, the trial of O.J. Simpson and Nelson Mandela’s historic election as president of South Africa. He also reported on the tobacco industry and the California earthquake.
After spending a decade with ABC, he moved to CNN in 2001. He joined in July and was supposed to start a prime-time news show that was to premiere in mid-October. Prior to that there were no plans for him to go on-air. However his responsibilities changed drastically in September.
On September 11, 2001, Brown was driving to work when he received a call from his office informing him of the terror attacks. He was asked to immediately cover the happenings.
Even though he was called to report the horrific attacks with almost no time to prepare, his years of experience as a journalist helped him to stay calm and cover the happenings in a composed manner. His analytical approach and professional demeanour earned him much appreciation.
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His popularity as a journalist soared post his coverage of the September 2001 attacks and he was given his own program ‘NewsNight with Aaron Brown’ which he hosted from 2001 to 2005.
In 2003, during the invasion of Iraq, he served as the anchor from the CNN centre in Atlanta providing viewers with the latest information from frontline reports as well as from Washington, D.C. and United States Central Command in Doha, Qatar.
In the 2004 US presidential elections, Brown made commentaries on the trends of the evening result on NASDAQ, while Anderson Cooper reported from the Senate and House races.
Aaron Brown left CNN in 2005. The next year, he assumed the John J. Rhodes Chair in Public Policy and American Institutions at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University. He also served as the first Walter Cronkite Professor of Journalism at Arizona State University from 2007 to 2014.
Since 2007 till date, Brown has been teaching a course called “Turning Points in Television News History” at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU.
Aaron Brown is famous for his live international news broadcast, ‘NewsNight with Aaron Brown’, which appeared on the CNN and CNN International network from 2001 to 2005. Based on investigative journalism, the show had segments like ‘The Whip’ and ‘On the Rise’ which were very popular with the audiences.
He was the host of the popular documentary television series ‘Wide Angle’ from 2008 to 2009. The weekly one-hour series covered international current affairs and was dedicated exclusively to provide in-depth reporting on international issues.