Category Archives: History/Documentary

9 December: Pearl’s aftermath continues . . .

 

Johnson Wax threw down the war-support gauntlet to their fellow radio advertisers.

Johnson Wax threw down the war-support gauntlet to their fellow radio advertisers.

The aftermath of Pearl Harbour continues apace. Not just around official America but around old-time radio, aboard which one of the earliest counter-volleys to America’s being yanked at last into World War II comes from and aboard NBC.

The catalyst is Fibber McGee & Molly, now long established as the network’s Tuesday night mainstay and powerhouse. NBC announces it’ll deliver the latest war news before every network program “day and night.” And McGee sponsor S.C. Johnson & Son throws a gauntlet straight down toward all radio advertisers, by way of a message from the wax maker’s president offered in lieu of its usual show-opening commercial:

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8 December: In the immediate wake of Pearl Harbour . . .

Many hoped to avoid it. Enough were said to embrace the prospect. Now the United States and the world begins rounding into shape enough to respond to the Pearl Harbour attacks, the reality of the Axis, and the arduous path of international war.

 

PEARL HARBOUR: THE IMMEDIATE RESPONSES

President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Yesterday . .. December 7, 1941 . . .” (CBS)

Eric Sevareid would be one of the CBS analysts covering FDR's "Infamy" address and call for declaration of war. (Photo: CBS.)

Eric Sevareid would be one of the CBS analysts covering FDR’s “Infamy” address and call for declaration of war. (Photo: CBS.)

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7 December: Infamy revisited—Pearl Harbour

 

The Shaw is sunk at Pearl Harbour . . . (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Shaw is sunk at Pearl Harbour . . . (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Seventy-four years later, the questions still animate, intrigue, trouble, and inspire, from historians of all stripes to simple students who become fascinated with the era.

The debates will always continue as to whether Pearl Harbour was a genuine sneak attack, or an act of retaliatory desperation following months of maneuvers and blockades. So will the debates as to whether the possibility was known in advance enough of terrible actuality.

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24 September: Birth of a news notion

Douglas Edwards, when he worked for WSB Atlanta prior to World War II . . .(Photo: WSB)

Douglas Edwards, when he worked for WSB Atlanta prior to World War II . . .(Photo: WSB)

CBS European News and CBS News of the World had a baby during World War II, and its name was World News Today.

Anchored customarily by George Bryan or Larry Elliott (European News) and Harry Mottle (News of the World), the original two news programs established what World News Today would solidify: smart pacing, smart spacing, perhaps the best such pace and space of any World War II regular newscasts. For a nation relying far more often upon radio for immediate war news, it was a game plan that worked.

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21 September: Radio ad absurdium

Karl Swenson, at the height of his renown as Lorenzo Jones. (Photo: CBS.)

Karl Swenson, at the height of his renown as Lorenzo Jones. (Photo: CBS.)

Of two charming programs airing tonight in 1948, one is a series premiere. Picking the leadoff between them here is something akin to choosing between lobster fra diavolo and chicken cordon bleu for dinner, so I decided to pick according to age.

There’s no question but that Frank and Anne Hummert are old-time radio’s king and queen of the soaps, with misery, disaster, melodrama, and heartbreak their quadruple specialties. But even they seem to have needed a little relief from the afternoon anxieties to which their usual audiences repaired. They forayed into musical programming now and then (the couple were passionate music lovers, though Anne Hummert won’t have time for further indulgence until she retires upon her husband’s death) and a prime-time crime drama here and there.

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