Remembering Charlie Austin, Legendary WBZ-TV Reporter, Dead at 73

Charles Austin (Credit: Mass Broadcasters Association)

BOSTON, MA (WBZ-AM) --  Charles Austin, one of Boston's first African-American TV journalists died early Tuesday morning at the age of 73 from kidney failure.

According to an obituary on the station's website, Austin joined the station in 1968 right after serving in the U.S. Army.  He worked as a film processor, editor and sports anchor and later reporter for WBZ-TV for 32 years before retiring in 2000.

Peter Brown, former News Director for WBZ-TV from 1993 to 2004 during Austin's tenure, described him as a compassionate and dedicated man who loved his craft, his faith and family.

"Charlie led the charge when it came to compassion," Brown said. " He really felt each story he covered and each story meant something to him," he said to WBZ NewsRadio1030's Carl Stevens.

For decades he was mostly a crime reporter during his time at WBZ yet he generated so much trust and respect among everyone he came in contact with setting an amazing standard for other journalists in Boston.

"I think there is one word that best describe Charlie and that word is trust," Brown said.

"People trusted Charlie and Charlie trusted them. I would almost call it faith...his faith and his family were the foundation of his life," he said.

"There was integrity there and I think that how he kind of lived out his faith, you could trust him, he was going to get the job done and get it done right to the best of his ability," said Liz Walker,  a former WBZ-TV news anchor.

Walker, one of Boston's first African-American female weeknight news anchor, is now a Pastor at Roxbury Presbyterian Church after going to Harvard Divinity School.

She said that she was one of many people inspired by Charlie's faith and strength who encouraged her to get her divinity degree.

Austin was inducted in the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2011.

According to the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association, among many awards, Austin received a 1970 Emmy Award for an in depth documentary focusing on the study of violence in Africa entitled, The Savage Root.  

He's also credited as the first television reporter from Boston to travel to Sudan and Ethiopia where he covered the famine crisis in the 1984.

In retirement, he was smacked by one medical challenge after another, finally his kidneys failed. 

There will be a funeral service in South Dartmouth followed by internment at the Veterans National Cemetery in Bourne.

A memorial service will be held at a later date at Dorchester's Florian Hall.  

Austin is survived by his wife, three daughters and several grand children.

WBZ NewsRadio1030's Carl Stevens reports.

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