Category Archives: News and comment

17 September: Invading the Netherlands

Murrow never met a bombing mission he couldn't fly, if allowed to. (Photo: CBS/Bettman Archive.)

Murrow never met a bombing mission he couldn’t fly, if allowed to. (Photo: CBS/Bettman Archive.)

The Dutch called 5 September Dolle dingstad, or Mad Tuesday—because the Allies had advanced so far toward their borders in the wake of D-Day that the Dutch believed they were thisclose to liberation. The campaign to liberate the Netherlands from the Nazi grip is in full swing, of course; Operation Market Garden—bidding to move from the Dutch-Belgian border over the Meuse, Waal, and Rhine rivers—proves only a partial success; the Allies can’t capture the Rhine bridge in the Battle of Arnhem.

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9 May: The world and inner wars of Howard K. Smith

Smith, whose brilliance reporting Berlin's destruction was equaled only by his flair for being his own worst enemy. (Photo: CBS.)

Smith, whose brilliance reporting Berlin’s destruction was equaled only by his flair for being his own worst enemy. (Photo: CBS.)

Edward R. Murrow’s World War II reporting team has earned a reputation for daring, often dangerous reporting. Murrow himself has traipsed the rooftops of London at the height of the Blitz, then accompanied deep bombing runs in the European war theater. Eric Sevareid has found himself lost in the Pacific when a military flight aboard which he flew went down with engine trouble during the Burmese-Chinese phase of the war in the Pacific. And Richard C. Hottelet has spent a few hours in a Nazi concentration camp.

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7 May: A momentable day, in more than one way

Ed Kennedy, who breaks the scoop of the war to date---and gets pinked for his trouble. (Photo: Associated Press.)

Ed Kennedy, who breaks the scoop of the war to date—and gets pinked for his trouble. (Photo: Associated Press.)

Very quietly, but most unconditionally, what’s left of the Third Reich following the death of Adolf Hitler surrenders one and all to the Allies, following the relentless, smothering Allied press into the heart of Germany. The rump Fensburg government of Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz—the surprise successor der Fuehrer named in the hours before his death, who knew in his heart that the Third Reich’s days were numbered almost in single digits when he took over—has lasted ten days since Hitler’s suicide.

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6 May: Dead zeppelin, live reporting

Morrison (with microphone) returns to what's left of the Hindenburg the day after the disaster. (Photo: WLS/NBC.)

Morrison (with microphone) returns to what’s left of the Hindenburg the day after the Lakehurst disaster. (Photo: WLS/NBC.)

Even in 2015, two years before its eightieth anniversary, you can find periodic debate as to whether it’s the single greatest legend of old-time radio news reporting in the pre-World War II era. What isn’t necessarily debatable is that Herbert Morrison’s spot report of the Hindenburg disaster becomes a legend the way legends customarily became that way, once upon a time—entirely by accident. It is an experiment in pre-recording news reporting for delayed broadcast, and it takes on its own mystique in very short order.

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23 February: FDR’s fireside at war

FDR turned radio into a presidential art form. (White House photo.)

FDR turned radio into a presidential art form. (White House photo.)

Comprehending and embracing radio to a greater extent than perhaps any American politician of his era (Calvin Coolidge was merely the first President to appreciate the medium’s potential), Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced the Fireside Chats during his first year in the White House, when he went on the air 12 March 1933 at the height of the Depression-seeded bank crisis.

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