Tag Archives: Edward R. Murrow

6 June: D-Day On the Air—73 Years Later

Morgan Beatty. (Photo: NBC.)

Morgan Beatty. (Photo: NBC.)

Whether these were old-time radio’s finest hours should be left to those who are there to hear it—surely there remain many among us who were—and to those who will hear, remarkably enough, 73 years to the day later.

It would be remarkable, too, if I could present every last hour of broadcast on this day to that century that came, but the time and space constraints make it impossible at minimum. The entire broadcast days of NBC—6 and 7 June, 1944 (at least, from 0200 hours in NBC’s case)—will survive, miraculously, for the 21st Century listener. So will CBS’s complete coverage of the invasion.

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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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15 April: A presidential farewell and an exposition of horror

FDR's radio friendliness is repaid abundantly upon his death and interment. (Photo: The National Archives.)

FDR’s radio friendliness is repaid abundantly upon his death and interment. (Photo: The National Archives.)

Until Franklin D. Roosevelt, network broadcasting has yet to address the death of a sitting President of the United States. As Edward R. Murrow would say of the United States a decade later, radio comes into its full inheritance at a tender age as it is, but World War II and the death of FDR have combined to tax that inheritance powerfully. It’s to radio’s credit that it has responded to both as powerfully, as effectively, and as memorably as few might have expected when network radio began taking its full shape a decade earlier.

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Prayer and Pacific: Old-time radio listening, 13 May

World News Today: Celebrating in Europe, Pressing On in the Pacific (CBS, 1945)

Robert Trout. (Photo: CBS.)

Robert Trout. (Photo: CBS.)

President Truman in Washington and the King and Queen of England attend services on a mutually declared Day of Prayer commemorating the end of the European war; a carrier attack on Japan and Japanese air forces trying to answer; Marines continuing their plunge toward the Okinawan capital; Australian troops closing in on liberating New Guinea from Japanese forces; rumours of former S.S. Commander-in-chief Heinrich Himmler being seized.

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Final farewells and a grisly revelation: Old-time radio listening, 15 April

FDR's funeral train steams along the Hudson River toward his burial at his Hyde Park home. (Photo: National Archives.)

FDR’s funeral train steams along the Hudson River toward his burial at his Hyde Park home. (Photo: National Archives.)

A nation, if not a world choked with grief, says final farewells and offers tributes to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

They include, and we begin with, a soon-to-be nationally famous broadcast entertainer whose later reputation for petulance and off-mike tyranny will astonish those who know him on air as the folksy, almost neighbourly type—who turns out to have been far more beholden to FDR than anyone knows at the time.

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