Randy Kraft (left) & Pat Delsi (right)
Wednesday, June 13, 2001
Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Luncheon
Bayard Randolph Kraft, Jr., better known to us as Randy, was born and raised in Collingswood, New Jersey. In 1939, Kraft was graduated from the Moorestown Friends School and four years later from Williams College. Randy served with the United States Marine Corp in the South Pacific during the Second World War.
Broadcast Pioneers member Randy Kraft got into broadcasting because he had a nice, pleasant voice. Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Famer Pat Stanton who was General Manager of WDAS Radio in the forties recognized it. Stanton gave Kraft his first broadcast on-air position.
From there, he went to WFIL Radio in the late forties as a staff announcer. In 1949, WFIL-TV (now WPVI-TV) hired Randy Kraft as a news announcer (that was before they were called anchors). He did two evening newscasts, Monday through Saturday.
Then in 1951, he left Channel 6 to go to Philly’s youngest TV station, Channel 10, WCAU-TV. There he anchored a 6:30 pm daily newscast (in April of 1953, it was airing from 6:45 to 7 pm) sponsored by Sinclair Oil Refining. Back then; the news was done with two local camera operators, a boom operator and an Assistant Director (Stage Manager). There were no live street reporters, just Randy giving you the news and sometimes they used network film or locally shot material. Kraft even did the commercials live.
Later that same year, he became the host of “Summer School” which originated by WCAU-TV and aired over the CBS Television Network. The program traced the development and the universe of mankind. The show won the prestigious Peabody Award.
Randy Kraft went to Channel 3, WPTZ where is also anchored their newscasts (in May of 1955, it was airing from 6:40 to 6:45 pm). He was the first person in Philadelphia television history to anchor news on all three stations. From 1970 to 2002, Lane Kane would anchor news on all three of the major news stations. Kane is often credited with this first because of the fact that the newscasts in the early days were short (5 or 10 minutes) and they were not called anchors. However, Randy Kraft did do the major newscasts in the early fifties on all three Philadelphia TV stations.
In the mid-fifties, Randy Kraft left Philadelphia for New York City. A fellow Philadelphian told Randy that they were looking for a show announcer for a new TV daily game show called, “Feather Your Nest” hosted by Bud Collier. Kraft took an audition and got the job. He did the announcing, commercials and the studio audience warm-ups for two years.
One time, he filled in for John Cameron Swayze and one of the two studio cameras went out, but Randy Kraft managed to get through the broadcast okay.
Then, Randy Kraft left broadcasting for five years. He went to work for “The Aspen Institute” as a fundraiser and recruiter. One of the people he worked with at the organization was Henry Kissinger who would later become Secretary of State of the United States. Kraft also served on the board of directors for Cephas Ministry in Florida, an organization which provides free Christian books, audio cassettes and videos.
The Aspen Institute fostered “enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue.” In short, it was a think tank.
He worked on several soap operas in the eighties and early nineties as a villain. He started on "Another Life," a soap on CBN. Then he went on to ABC’s “General Hospital.” There, he portrayed an older Alistair Durban, who Randy described as “not a nice character.” Later, he showed up on “The Young and the Restless."
Randy Kraft loved golfing and tennis. For years, he was a cross-country skier, but at the age of 68, he took up down hilling skiing, his ever-lasting passion.
Kraft passed away following a brief illness on Friday, November 26, 2004 at the age of 83. Randy was survived by his wife, Beverly Phelps Kraft. The couple was married for 57 years. The couple had two sons, Bayard R. III and Peter R.and daughter Ann Woodworth.
On Friday evening, November 18, 2011, Randy Kraft was inducted posthumously into the Broadcast Pioneers' Hall of Fame.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson who wrote this bio
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