Ireland House Oral History Collection

Jim Murphy

Photo by Linda Dowling Almeida.  Date: 19 October 2007

Created/Published:

19 October 2007

1 hour, 40 minutes

Preferred Citation:

Ireland House Oral History Collection, Archives of Irish America, New York University

Biographical Note:

Jim Murphy was born in 1960 at Boulevard Hospital in Astoria, Queens. His father emigrated from County Mayo, Ireland to New York in 1948. He worked in construction before securing a job with the New York City Transit Authority, working as a bus driver in the Bronx. Murphy’s mother emigrated from County Galway, Ireland in the mid-1950s, working as a waitress at Schrafft’s Restaurant in Times Square when she first arrived. Murphy’s parents met at an Irish dance in the Rockaways, a popular seaside resort in Queens among Irish Americans, and were married in the 1950s.

Murphy grew up in Queens, New York with one older sister, Mary, and two younger sisters, Nora and Celia. He spent the first few years of his life in Woodside, Queens, before his family moved to Queens Village in 1964, where Murphy and his family belonged to Our Lady of Lourdes, a Catholic parish. The following year, the family moved to Floral Park, just three or four miles east of Queens Village. After finishing grammar school at Our Lady of Lourdes, Murphy tested into the rigorous all boys Jesuit institution, Regis High School, in Manhattan, where all students attend the school tuition free. Murphy became increasingly interested in current events during high school, often reading The New York Times and listening to news radio at home alongside his father.

During his senior year, Murphy applied for internships in order to escape the Regis classroom and work during his final trimester of school. After applying to a few internships, he began working at WPIX-TV New York (now the CW11). Soon Murphy began to realize his love for the newsroom, and upon high school graduation, he became a full-time employee at WPIX. Murphy chose to stay in New York and attend Queens College, where his sister Mary also went to school. Since Murphy worked full-time, it became increasingly difficult for him to manage classes and his job. At first, he lived at home with his family near Queens College and commuted to class. But after a few years, Murphy eventually dropped out of school and at age 19 moved out of his house and into his own apartment in Manhattan. Working under figures such as Dan Doherty at WPIX, Murphy learned how to write stories and produce news shows at an early age.

In 1981, Murphy moved to WABC-TV, the ABC owned station, where he spent close to five years. By the age of 21, he became the producer of the flagship Six O’Clock Eyewitness News with anchor Roger Grimsby. During this time, he met Adrienne Barr, also a producer at the station, and the two married in 1986. Just after his marriage, Murphy left to join WCBS (Channel 2) in New York, where he worked alongside his sister, Mary, a street crime reporter, until 1988. Itching to get out of the newsroom, Murphy asked the network for more field experience. While on assignment to report on a Chicago Bears and New York Giants football game, he met Gene Siskel on the plane to Chicago. When their flight was delayed, Murphy, Siskel, and his wife, who had also worked at Channel 2, spent hours talking. Soon after, Siskel offered Murphy the position of supervising producer and director of his nationally syndicated film criticism program Siskel & Ebert & the Movies. Murphy took the job in Chicago.

While working in Chicago for the next four and a half years, Murphy also helped to write and produce documentaries with Siskel and Ebert. He and his wife, Barr, attempted a “commuter marriage” for the first six to eight months of his new job, but soon Barr left New York City to join Murphy in Chicago. After missing the newsroom and New York City, Murphy decided to move back east with his wife. In 1993, on his last day of work in Chicago, Murphy learned that his wife was pregnant with their first child, even after doctors had told the couple they would never have children.

Back in New York, Murphy returned to broadcast news to work at CBS’s morning news program, This Morning. He first served as a segment producer of the broadcast. Within months he became the senior broadcast producer of This Morning, and then finally the executive producer. After two years, Murphy moved to the CBS program 48 Hours, working as deputy producer under the executive producer Susan Zarinsky. Two years later in 1999, he joined the CBS Evening News team, after Dan Rather asked Murphy to work for his program. By 2000, Murphy became the executive producer of the Evening News, the same year his daughter was born.

Under Murphy’s leadership, the CBS Evening News won several awards, including six Emmy Awards. Murphy, among other members of his team, was recognized with the Alfred I. DuPont Award in 2002 and 2003, as well as the RTNDA (The Association of Electronic Journalists) Edward R. Murrow Award for “Overall Excellence” in 2003. While working at CBS, Murphy experienced some of his most important career moments. His program reported on the September 11th World Trade Center attacks while Murphy served as executive producer. CBS also produced the first network news broadcasts from Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban. Murphy even helped to secure an important interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in which Sharon made an important policy change to break relations with former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. Finally, Murphy and Rather interviewed Saddam Hussein just weeks before the outbreak of the Iraq war in 2003.

After six years at CBS News, Murphy departed in November 2005, after Dan Rather resigned. In the summer of 2006, Murphy joined ABC’s Good Morning America team as the senior executive producer of this network morning show, working with executive producer Tom Cibrowski, and co-anchor Diane Sawyer. After choosing new team members for Good Morning America in 2006, Murphy continues to compete for morning news ratings, vying with NBC’s Today Show to gain the top spot.

Murphy currently lives in New York City with his wife and two children

Click on image to enlarge.

  1. Jim Murphy speaking to his team, including Robin Roberts, in white, Diane Sawyer, right and Tom Cibrowski. (Photo by Angel Franco/The New York Times)
  2. Jim Murphy, right, outside the Times Square studio of <em>Good Morning America</em>, with Sam Champion, the program’s weather anchor, and the co-hosts, Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer. (Photo by Angel Franco/<em>The New York Times</em>)

Interviewers:

Photo Credit:

  1. Photo by Linda Dowling Almeida. Date: 19 October 2007
  2. Jim Murphy speaking to his team, including Robin Roberts, in white, Diane Sawyer, right and Tom Cibrowski. (Photo by Angel Franco/The New York Time)
  3. Jim Murphy, right, outside the Times Square studio of Good Morning America, with Sam Champion, the program’s weather anchor, and the co-hosts, Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer. (Photo by Angel Franco/The New York Times)

Notes:

  1. Trinity School is a college preparatory, coed, independent day school for grades K–12 at 139 W. 91st Street in Manhattan.