Jim Sánchez/ Conexión San Ángelo

SAN ANGELO –On July 20, 1969 when Astronaut, Neil Armstrong, landed on the moon and America saw that historical event on television, the point man behind the live television news shots, was award-winning, former CBS News Director, Joel Banow. Mr. Banow, who was part of the special events unit at CBS News, while his name was not a household recognized one, the news-anchor in front of the camera who he worked with was-- Walter Cronkite. Both men made their mark in history, one in front of camera, the other behind it.

Apollo 11 crew, left-to-right: Commander Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr.
On July 20th 1969 at 4:18 PM, EDT the Lunar Module "Eagle" landed in a region of the moon called the Mare Tranquillitatis, also known as the Sea of Tranquility.

A third individual who made history was Mission Commander Neil Armstrong. When astronaut, Armstrong stepped onto the moon lunar surface and uttered that famous quote, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” in a figurative sense that phrase directly applied to Banow because he too had taken small steps that eventually led to a “giant leap”. Because Banow eventually became the news director who directed the news coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Besides Commander Armstrong on that historical space mission were two other astronauts; one was Buzz Aldrin who also set foot on the moon 20 minutes later after Armstrong. A third astronaut, Michael Collins, piloted the command module, Columbia.

Sara Gonzales is an ASU student who assisted Mr. Banow in his presentation, titled: CBS News and the Manned Space Program.

Banow, was in San Angelo this past Tuesday, October 10, for a three-day lecture as he spoke to Angel State University students at various campus locations. Before Banow actually directed the news coverage on the Apollo 11 assignment, he first got experience from work on the Mercury, Gemini, (Apollo) and then Skylab missions. As for how Banow got to be the guy in charge of 100 news staff personnel under his supervision, he got his first job, nine years earlier (1960) as a CBS production assistant on the Mercury mission; then toward the latter end of the Mercury mission he became an assistant director. “I started directing with Gemini 8,” he said. It was Banow, along with the consultation of other members, who came up with the idea of how to do re-entry, how to do the shoots for splashdown and where the astronauts are in their orbit, stated Banow.

“All that process work of decision-making and creation got me all the way up to Gemini which was the real rehearsal for Apollo,” said Banow. “It developed many of the systems such as space-walk, rendezvous and docking in space with other vehicles.” 

Banow concluded the interview stating that he received a Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Television Directorial Achievement for the Apollo 11 broadcasts. 

Below is the chronological time line for the historical Apollo 11 mission.

Dates: Jul 16, 1969 – Jul 24, 1969

Launch date: July 16, 1969, 6:32 AM GMT-7

Return launch: July 21, 1969, 17:54 UTC

Spacecraft: Apollo CSM-107; Apollo LM-5

EVA duration: 2 hours, 31 minutes 40 seconds