Category Archives: World War II

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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15 December: The Bill of Rights provides a Corwin triumph

Norman Corwin, while still in CBS's good graces. (Photo: CBS.)

Norman Corwin, while still in CBS’s good graces. (Photo: CBS.)

Norman Corwin’s biographer R. LeRoy Bannermann will recall how Corwin, planning a special commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, was completing the script when the news of Pearl Harbour reached him. And from the moment it airs tonight, it may become Corwin’s signature composition and presentation.

The timing of We Hold These Truths will give it historic significance enough, airing eight days after Pearl Harbour, its nationalistic but hardly jingoistic theme kindling within its listeners both an indignant patriotism and a renewed dedication. Which is, when all is said and done, a remarkable achievement for a man who’s just been cashiered by CBS—because his work, much heard, heeded, and honoured, has become too “speculative [and] experimental” for a network in need of becoming more “competitive.”

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11 December: The show Henry Luce didn’t really like

Westbrook Van Voorhis, the unforgettable Voice of Time. (Photo: CBS.)

Westbrook Van Voorhis, the unforgettable Voice of Time. (Photo: CBS.)

On the same day as Congress declares war against the Third Reich, in Pearl Harbour’s immediate aftermath and countering the Reich’s and Fascist Italy’s declarations against the United States, one of old-time radio’s most eloquent radio exercises in the aftermath comes from a series launched in Cincinnati more than a decade earlier. A series that became a radio legend despite the apparent disdain of the publishing titan whose signature creation inseminated it.

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10 December: A bump for Fred Allen

Texaco not only moves Allen to a better timeslot around or after Pearl Harbour, but the oil giant will get mileage aplenty featuring him in wartime print advertising. (Photo: Texas Oil Company.)

Texaco not only moves Allen to a better timeslot around or after Pearl Harbour, but the oil giant will get mileage aplenty featuring him in wartime print advertising. (Photo: Texas Oil Company.)

Pearl Harbour will affect Fred Allen as it will all radio entertainers, but in Allen’s case it will provide an inadvertent ratings bump.

The satirist and his Texaco Star Theater hour have struggled against NBC’s Eddie Cantor and Mr. District Attorney on Wednesday nights. But then the Ford Motor Company drops the curtain permanently on its Sunday night CBS mainstay, The Sunday Evening Hour, which featured performances by the Detroit Symphony. “It was wartime,” Jim Harburg would review, in his splendid volume compiling the history of network radio ratings, “and the car maker had nothing to sell.”

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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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