Howard Reig was not a household name, but his voice was familiar in homes nationwide as the opening announcer of the “NBC Nightly News” for more than two decades.
Reig, whose authoritative baritone delivered “From NBC News world headquarters in New York, this is the ‘NBC Nightly News’” as recently as 11 months ago, died Monday in Venice at 87.
He worked with evening news anchormen John Chancellor, Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams from 1983 until he retired in 2005.
The network continued to use his recorded introduction until last December, when it tapped actor Michael Douglas to start the newscast.
“By my tally, he has introduced nearly 7,000 ‘Nightly’ broadcasts,” Brett Holey, director of the “NBC Nightly News,” said after Reig’s last broadcast.
Williams delivered an on-air tribute to Reig on Wednesday.
The radio and television pioneer who taught high school English in New York for a year before venturing into broadcasting in 1943 “was one of the most humble men you could ever meet,” said his son, Ken Reig, of Vermont.
“When he was asked by one of the activities directors in his assisted-living facility to stand up and tell everybody about his career, he stood up and said: ‘I was a teacher. Thank you,’ and then he sat down,” his son said.
Reig’s broadcasting career spanned more than 60 years.
In his earlier days, he was a radio actor and hosted live Big Band shows, where he got to know Duke Ellington.
He also had a daily, four-hour radio program that combined news, music and interviews.
After joining NBC in 1952, he delivered news, weather and sports in various roles and did commercials and voice-overs.
“If he ever considered himself a celebrity, it was during his radio and early television careers,” his son said. “He was a newscaster back then and did a lot more than announcing.”
Born May 31, 1921, in New York City, Reig received a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in education to become a teacher, but was soon drawn to broadcasting after accepting a summer job at a Schenectady radio station.
For many years, Reig was also the off-camera voice of NBC’s “Meet the Press” and handled announcing duties for the network’s flagship station in New York City, WNBC-TV.
When he retired, his family created a Web site with archival photos and videos spanning his career. The retrospective can be viewed at howard reig.com.
After retiring, Reig lived in New Jersey and on Florida’s east coast before moving to Venice about six months ago to be closer to family, his son said.
The elder Reig was born with a heart condition and suffered from heart disease in recent years.
In addition to his son, he is survived by three other children and five grandchildren.
No local services are planned.