Wussler, CNN co-founder and CBS exec, dies at 73

CNN co-founder Robert Wussler has died at his home in Westport, Conn., after a long illness, according to multiple media reports.

Wussler died June 5, spokesman Arthur Sando said. He was 73.

Ted Turner recruited Wussler to join Turner Broadcasting System in 1980, the same year the media mogul launched CNN. Wussler was essentially Turner's right-hand man for the next 10 years.

Wussler was the president of SuperStation WTBS and help launch TNT as well as Turner's regional sports network, SportSouth.

He also served in top posts at Headline News, TBS Sports, as well as with the Braves and Hawks franchises and the USA vs. USSR Goodwill Games.

Wussler was a key negotiator in a deal to bring Major League Baseball games to TNT starting with the 1990 season. ESPN, however, won the final bid with the league.

Officials with Atlanta-based CNN and Turner Broadcasting System referred calls about Wussler to a spokesman for Ted Turner and Turner Enterprises Inc. That person said he could not provide more information on Saturday.

Wussler’s long career in television –- one that included six Emmy Awards -- started nearly three decades before he joined CNN and Turner Broadcasting.

He became the youngest president of CBS Television Network when he took over at age 39. It was a job he got in 1976 – 19 years after he started at the network as a mailroom clerk.

He also was the executive producer and director of special events in the news department and then rose to become head of CBS Sports

At CBS News, Wussler produced thousands of hours of programming, gaining a reputation for innovation in covering such seminal events as the assassinations and funerals of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.; Richard Nixon's historic trip to China in 1972; presidential campaigns, conventions and elections; and the U.S. space program, including Neil Armstrong landing on the moon in 1969.

Wussler essentially invented the genre of pregame telecasts in the mid-'70s with "The NFL Today," for which he hired Brent Musburger, Irv Cross, Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder and a former Miss America, Phyllis George.

Wussler also gained prominence as a news innovator, from his early use of miniature cameras to his calm control room demeanor as Walter Cronkite's producer. He is considered largely responsible for the expansion of satellite usage in news coverage and the advancement of small cameras and recording devices in the studio and in the field.

In 1978, Wussler formed his own production company called Pyramid Enterprises. It created syndicated programming for the international marketplace, specializing in Japan, France and the former Soviet Union.

Information from The Hollywood Reporter and The Associated Press was used in this article.