18 September: A crisis and a blitz

In 1938, the Sudeten crisis comes to a boil; in 1940, the London Blitz continues apace, with a particularly understated but gripping report from CBS legend Eric Sevareid.


Special Report: Refuting Propaganda (Czech Radio, 1938)

Czechoslovakia’s English-speaking radio station denies Czech pressure against German-born citizens being restricted or under arrest, as Nazi and Hungarian propaganda broadcasts have charged. The broadcast also discusses Il Duce, Benito Mussolini of Italy, calling for a plebiscite to resolve the Sudetenland crisis—a plebiscite the embattled Czech government fears will not resolve the Sudeten crisis or questions about nationality relations within the country itself.

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17 September: To free the Dutch

The Allied campaign to liberate the Netherlands from the Nazi grip is underway in earnest.



Edward R. Murrow: Counting the Parachutes (CBS, 1944)

Murrow. (Photo: CBS.)

Murrow. (Photo: CBS.)

His habitual flying aboard bombing runs married to his London Blitz rooftop reporting has prompted many at CBS and even his own wife to ponder whether Murrow has a death wish. Today is additional evidence: Murrow flies aboard such a run to report on the Allied invasion of the Netherlands. The surviving recording will last a mere minute; what he reported will endure—particularly for the Dutch.

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13 September: Turning a big key toward World War II

Benes, who may have been manipulated into the conditions that led him to invoke martial law.

Benes, who may have been manipulated into the conditions that led him to invoke martial law.

One of the most crucial keys toward the launch of what became World War II has been turned. Edvard Benes, president of Czechoslovakia, declares martial law, after months of Third Reich-instigated manipulation of events designed to provoke just that and, of course, the eventual Nazi takeover of Czechoslovakia.

The declaration is one of the climaxes of months of unreast throughout middle and eastern Europe over the Sudentenland, the Czech region in which over three million ethinc Germans lived, and within which the influence of the Sudetenland German Party (SdP)—led by Konrad Henlein, who forged it into a virtual branch of Germany’s Nazi Party—was enough to build it into the second-largest political party in the region.

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28 August: Gracie says her saddest goodnight

Although they had equal billing, this married couple headlined a show that was wholly dependent on the skewed behavior of one of its stars, Gracie Allen. It took a big man, George Burns, to recognize that his wife was the laugh-getter, and to yield to her as the quintessential straight-man.

Jim Cox, in American Radio Networks: A History (2009).


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21 August: Boiling a little more softly

Eve Arden (center) with Richard Crenna (left) and Gale Gordon. (Photo: CBS.)

Eve Arden (center) with Richard Crenna (left) and Gale Gordon. (Photo: CBS.)

Stealing the show in The Doughboys (1944), where she played a Russian guerilla with a knack for fractured English and for suggestive gestures with her rifle, wasn’t enough to break Eve Arden out of the stereotype she came to despise, whether on stage, in films, or in her earlier radio life aside the like of Jack Haley, Jack Carson, and Danny Kaye—the tart, cynical best friend.

“I just don’t like that dame,” she once told a reporter. “She is hard boiled, unsentimental, and just not me.”

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