Former CNN executive David Bohrman, pioneer of the ‘Magic Wall,’ dead at 69

News Room

David Bohrman, a former veteran CNN producer and executive who pioneered the use of the “Magic Wall,” died Sunday following complications after hip surgery, according to his family. He was 69.

Bohrman, a native of Hollywood, California, had a long and storied career in television, starting in local news in Los Angeles. He joined CNN in 1998 and later became the network’s Washington bureau chief and senior vice president.

“David was a CNN institution, a leader and innovator who mentored many through decades in television news,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement.

“His impact at CNN lives on in our programming and his passion for news will be felt in our halls every day.”

Bohrman was the creator of countless news programs, having also spent chapters of his career at ABC News, CBS News, NBC News and serving as president of Current TV. He was known for his innovative approach to producing, which garnered him many awards.

In 2004, it was his idea to anchor CNN’s election coverage from the floor of party conventions. Four years later, he implemented the Magic Wall, a touchscreen display featuring up-to-date voting data on election nights, which is now a staple of CNN’s election coverage and commonly used by other broadcasters.

“David was one of the most innovative television news producers in history. It was David’s idea that election nights and newscasts could be produced with anchors standing in front of enormous video walls,” said CNN Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist, who worked closely with Bohrman. “Now newscasts all over the world are produced this way.”

At CNN, besides launching a number of shows like “NewsNight with Aaron Brown” and “The Moneyline Newshour,” Bohrman produced more than a dozen presidential debates for the network from 2003 to 2008 and executive produced many election nights.

“David was a risk taker who every day wanted to find a better way to tell or show the story,” said John King, CNN’s chief national correspondent.

“His decision to take then just emerging touch-screen technology and integrate [it] into our 2008 election coverage was nothing short of revolutionary. And it wasn’t just cutting edge technology. David turned an old bus into a rolling television studio, bringing our political coverage into every corner of America. He made us better.”

Bohrman also executive produced live coverage from CNN’s New York bureau on September 11, 2001, and oversaw coverage of many significant events through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the first-ever live coverage of the Battle of Umm Qasr.

At ABC News, Bohrman created “World News Now,” which is still on air more than 30 years after its debut. He was also a senior producer of “Nightline” and part of the original staff of the program.

Bohrman is survived by his wife Catherine, children Amber and Harrison and his beloved granddaughters Sloan and Paige.

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