When CNN was launched in 1980, founder Ted Turner said, “Barring satellite problems, we won’t be signing off until the world ends. We’ll be on, and we will cover it live, and that will be our last, last event. We’ll play the National Anthem only one time, on the first of June , and when the end of the world comes, we’ll play ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ before we sign off.”
He wasn’t joking — Turner had ordered the creation of a video of the Christian hymn performed by members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine bands. It was held in the network’s archives, marked HFR [Hold For Release] till end of the world confirmed. Michael Ballaban, who’d been an intern at the network’s launch, released the recording above in 2015.
Ballaban wrote, “That leaves open a whole host of unanswered questions. If this is the last CNN employee alive, in the last CNN bureau on Earth, who do they confirm it with? What does confirmation look like? Who can be the one to make that determination, to pronounce the universe itself dead? … And who would be around to watch it? We don’t know.”