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Cheryl Gould Leaving NBC News After 37 Years

cheryl gouldAfter 37 years at NBC News, senior vice president Cheryl Gould has announced she will leave the network at the end of the month. Gould has worked in several different roles at NBC, including as vice president of CNBC and as the first female executive producer of “Nightly News.”

In a goodbye note to staffers sent this morning, Gould — who plans to “get going on her QTR,” or quality time remaining — recalled the highlights of her career:

My memory cup runneth over. Ayatollah Khomeini and the hostages. The Berlin Wall and Tom. The first Western live broadcasts from China. D-Day plus 35, plus 40, plus 50. The royal wedding–that other one, with the poufy dress. The explosion of the Challenger. And the GM pickup truck. Racing with Tom to a live shot at the Pyramids and getting stuck in a sewage ditch.

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen election nights that I thought would never end. Interviews with Marcos, Mubarak, Mitterrand, Mikhail, and Maggie. The fall of communism. The rise of dot.coms. The end of Basys, Hurley’s, wire machine clatter and cigars in the newsroom. The start of start-ups, selfies, news branding, and “likes.” I’ve lived through sixteen offices, nine news presidents, three corporate owners. And one new commissary.

I remember the Paris bureau’s old phone number: 359-11-71. I remember when there was a Paris bureau.

“We have all benefited from Cheryl’s decades of successes and dedication to NBC News. Please join me in congratulating her on her impressive career and in wishing her well in the future,” NBC news president Deborah Turness wrote in a note to NBC News this morning. “Cheryl leaves behind a network that is stronger thanks to her contributions.”

Read the full notes from Gould and Turness after the jump.

My dear friends and colleagues,

Thirty-six and a half years is a not even a blip in the grand sweep of history, but when those years comprise a career with one employer, and those years happen to be MY years, it feels worthy of an upgrade from a blip to a blurb, which I offer herewith.

My memory cup runneth over. Ayatollah Khomeini and the hostages. The Berlin Wall and Tom. The first Western live broadcasts from China. D-Day plus 35, plus 40, plus 50. The royal wedding–that other one, with the poufy dress. The explosion of the Challenger. And the GM pickup truck. Racing with Tom to a live shot at the Pyramids and getting stuck in a sewage ditch.

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen election nights that I thought would never end. Interviews with Marcos, Mubarak, Mitterrand, Mikhail, and Maggie. The fall of communism. The rise of dot.coms. The end of Basys, Hurley’s, wire machine clatter and cigars in the newsroom. The start of start-ups, selfies, news branding, and “likes.” I’ve lived through sixteen offices, nine news presidents, three corporate owners. And one new commissary.

I remember the Paris bureau’s old phone number: 359-11-71. I remember when there was a Paris bureau.

Recently, I was jolted into thinking about what the 37th year and beyond might bring. I was talking with a good friend who asked how I, a single mother with my only child off to college, was handling the empty-nest syndrome.

She asked, “So, what do you want to do with your QTR?”

“What the hell is QTR?” I wanted to know.

“Quality Time Remaining,” she said. “Maybe now’s a good time to think about it.”

Quality Time Remaining. Yikes! It sounded like the last stage before the ventilator. Who wants to think about time remaining when you’re only 61, energy and life still flow fiercely through your veins, and your kid’s friends think you’re cool? (Not that he does.)

It’s not as though I’d never thought about the proverbial “next chapter,” but I’d delayed giving myself a deadline because it’s easier to procrastinate when there seem to be endless tomorrows. Yet think about it I did. A lot. Yes, I’ve enjoyed a fine career, proudly done the woman pioneer thing, spent years helping to shape news reporting, but what about those tomorrows? Why not think about what would inspire me and what contributions I could make in the years ahead?

It wasn’t easy for me last fall when I told Deborah that I had decided to cut the cord, but I knew it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it. I’ll be here until the end of March handing off projects as well as conducting no-holds-barred archaeological triage on my career artifacts. Do I really need the lanyard and security badge from Decision ’92? Or the tchotchke I bought in the Kasbah in Algiers?

I’ll miss NBC News and being in the thick of it. I’ll be forever grateful to Tom Brokaw and Bill Wheatley for having had faith in a wild-haired young woman from the farmland of South Jersey to become the first woman in a leadership role at Nightly News and later the front office. I’ll never tire of thinking about my Overnight colleague and friend Linda Ellerbee who showed me the art of unmasking hypocrisy and laughing at the absurd. I will never forget my dear colleagues David Bloom, Garrick Utley, and my beloved friend Tim Russert.

I’ll miss all of you I’ve had the privilege and joy of working with, learning from, lifting up, and leaning on. I admire the professionalism of all of you in the field, the edit rooms, the newsrooms, the control rooms, the archives and research libraries, the studios, the Rights office, x4161, the law office, Englewood Cliffs, and more.

I’ve been fascinated by the digital natives–and those who wish they were– with their technological savvy, their devotion to what’s trending, and their “app”-etite for InstatwitterFacebookYouTube. I proudly salute the seasoned news veterans–and those who value them–for their wisdom, experience, and news judgment.

I’ll miss 30 Rock. Hard to imagine, but one day I might even miss the annual migration of gawking tree people in the plaza at Christmas time. (On second thought…..)

I’m enjoying sifting through memories and preserving them in a mental file marked “material for future nostalgia.”

Rich memories, yes. But for now, I’m eager and excited to get going on my QTR.

With best wishes,
Cheryl

—————————

From: Deborah Turness (NBCUniversal)
Sent: Monday, March 03, 2014 11:39 AM
To: @NBC Uni NBC News All
Subject: Cheryl Gould

After a remarkable and groundbreaking career at NBC News spanning nearly 37 years, Cheryl Gould has decided to leave it behind. As she put it, “I’m old enough to have had a wonderful career, and young enough to be excited about plotting a new course.”

Cheryl’s time at NBC has taken her all over the globe and the country. She joined the network as a producer and radio correspondent in Paris and then London covering some of the biggest international stories of the time, including Ayatollah Khomeini in exile, the negotiations in Algiers for the release of the American hostages in Iran, terrorism in Europe, and the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

Back in the U.S., Cheryl helped create NBC News Overnight with Linda Ellerbee and was the program’s senior producer. After working closely with Tom Brokaw on his “D-Day Plus 40” documentary, she became the first woman to break through to the leadership ranks of NBC Nightly News, and toward the end of her decade tenure there, she served as the broadcast’s first female executive producer. She has been in the front office for more than 20 years as a vice president (including a 4-year joint appointment with CNBC) and later as a senior vice president.

Most recently, Cheryl’s journalistic strengths and her business savvy have led to strategic business development ventures for the network, including the NBC News archives business. Cheryl has been a leader in the journalism profession beyond NBC News as a former board member of the International Women’s Media Foundation and most notably as a long-time board member of the Committee to Protect Journalists. She has helped establish programs to boost women and minority representation in the newsroom. Over the years, she has had articles published in Newsweek, The New York Times, and msnbc.com.

We have all benefited from Cheryl’s decades of successes and dedication to NBC News. Please join me in congratulating her on her impressive career and in wishing her well in the future. Cheryl leaves behind a network that is stronger thanks to her contributions.

Deborah

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