Robert K. McCormick, 74, a pioneer radio and television newscaster who appeared on NBC programs for 32 years, died Sept. 4 in New York City several days after lung cancer surgery.

In 1949, as head of the Washington television news bureau, Mr. McCormick was the capital reporter on the first NBC-TV nightly news program, the Camel News Caravan, with John Cameron Swayze in New York. In 1951, NBC sent him to Europe to organize news bureaus which he headed in Frankfurt and Bonn. He recommended that he be succeeded in Washington by David Brinkley. The show evolved into the Huntley-Brinkley program.

Brinkley, now an ABC commentator, said yesterday that "there are all kinds of people who call themselves pioneers in TV. Bobby was a true pioneer."

Julian Goodman, former chairman and president of NBC, said Mr. McCormick was "a great reporter and a great writer, a friend to many others and much respected by his colleagues."

Born in Danville, Ky., he came to Washington as a youngster and attended Eastern High School. But after a year at George Washington University, the Depression curtailed his formal education.

One day he dropped in at the old Washington Daily News in hopes of getting a baseball game pass. Instead, he was hired at 18 as a copy boy. He stayed at the News six years as a sports editor, city editor and columnist. He then became Washington correspondent for Colliers magazine, then a major and influential publication.

In 1942, when Colliers refused to send him abroad as a World War II correspondent, Mr. McCormick moved to NBC. The following year he became central Pacific correspondent, based first at Pearl Harbor and then at Guam. He roamed much of the Pacific and was shot at by Japanese snipers while covering the conquest of Iwo Jima. Many years later he was shot at by rebels in Angola while covering the rebellion against Portuguese rule.

In this country, Mr. McCormick's assignments included many political conventions. They included the 1948 Democratic and Republican conclaves, the first to be covered by television.

When he returned from Europe in 1955 and to his home in Bethesda, he was assigned first to the State Department and then the Capitol, particularly the Senate. He was praised on the Senate floor when he retired from the network in 1976.

For some time Mr. McCormick struggled with alcoholism. Not only did he win, but he became so interested in the lack of treatment for the disease that he wrote a book about it, "Facing Alcoholism," recently reprinted.

Two years ago he moved to Tarpon Springs, Fla. He went to New York for surgery, which was complicated by a previous heart valve implant.

Mr. McCormick was a member of the Cosmos Club and a past president of the Radio-TV Correspondents Association.

His wife, Margaret (Peggy) McCormick, died in 1976. Survivors include two daughters, Karen Skilling of New York, and Nora Pepper of Anchorage, Alaska, and four grandchildren.