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A Day Of Radio Remembered

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A Day Of Radio Remembered

History

A Day Of Radio Remembered

A Day Of Radio Remembered

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In the fall of 1939, the U.S. watched anxiously as war broke out in Europe. At this turning point in history, the National Archives set out to document a full day of radio, just as it was heard by listeners at home. With the help of station WJSV, they recorded the 18 hours straight from sign-on to sign-off.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Now, back to earlier days in media. In 1939, the National Archives did something it had never done before. It recorded, for posterity, an entire day of radio from sign on to sign off, just as listeners heard it at home. The station they chose was WJSV in Washington, D.C., and the date, September 21st, 70 years ago today. We're assuming you do not have 18 hours to listen to the entire broadcast, so independent producer Ben Shapiro has this distillation of one day of radio and life in the shadow of the Second World War.

(Soundbite of past recording)

Unidentified Man #1: Good morning. This is station WJSV in the city of Washington, 6 o'clock.

Unidentified Man #2: Good morning, one and all. This is Thursday morning, September the 21st. This is the first day of fall officially, isn't it?

Unidentified Man #3: I have a funny feeling this morning that my few words here are being set aside, so to speak, for posterity. I don't know why.

(Soundbite of song, "Over the Rainbow")

(Soundbite of humming)

Unidentified Man #3: Robert William Hyde(ph) of Jackson Avenue in Riverdale is 2 years old today. Hello, Robert.

(Soundbite of bell)

Unidentified Man #3: Here's Joe King with the news.

Mr. JOE KING: Well, both sides in the European War appear to be marking time. Germany is rushing thousands of troops and supplies to the Western front. Jewish refugees from Poland are said to be in a state of terror as a result of the Romanian government's order that all undesirables must leave the country in 15 days. This is Columbia station for the nation…

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman #1: About this time of day, does your face look a bit fatigued? If you're going out tonight, take a Woodbury Facial Cocktail first. Lovely debutants give their complexions this beauty cocktail with Woodbury every afternoon before the evening starts. Get Woodbury today.

(Soundbite of bell)

Unidentified Man #1: Nine o'clock at WJSV, Washington.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man #4: The bakers of slow-baked Wonder Bread and Hostess Cakes present "Pretty Kitty Kelly."

Unidentified Man #5: Michael Conway(ph), Kitty's former sweetheart, now her lawyer, is working with might and main to prove Kitty innocent of the murder of Mademoiselle Helene Dupin(ph). Now, this pawn broker's a new angle. He sold a gun to whoever shot Mademoiselle Dupin.

Unidentified Man #4: I - hey, wait a minute. This pawn broker, huh, his name ain't Glicker(ph), is it? An old guy?

Unidentified Man #5: Oh, I don't know what he looks like, but that's his name, all right.

Unidentified Man #4: I've been fishing with him for the last week.

Unidentified Man #5: You did.

Unidentified Man #4: Yeah, yeah, he's up in the Catskill Mountains.

(Soundbite of train)

Unidentified Man #8: Here is the latest news from other parts of the world. The capital city of what was Poland, Warsaw, still holds up on the 13th day of the siege, battered by bomb and shell, starved, its great buildings destroyed, one of the heroic last stands of all time. This is the Columbia Broadcasting…

Unidentified Man #9: If you mean to buy a new fur coat, be forewarned by this good advice from Zlotnick the Furrier. Prices on imported goods are going up, furs for example. Insurance rates for transporting furs from central Europe have jumped 3,000 percent. Now is the time to buy your furs. Zlotnick the Furrier, at the sign of the big, white bear, 12th and G Streets.

Unidentified Man #10: Washington, D.C., September 21st. The Congress of the United States convenes an extra session. Right now, the members of the House and the Senate are all sitting quietly in their seats. There are many ladies in the audience, and they're all dressed in bright, new autumn clothes.

(Soundbite of applause)

Unidentified Man #10: And here's the ovation for the president as he stands there. And now looks with splendid head and smile at the crowd in his usual manner. Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States.

President FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: Last January, I told the Congress that a war which threatened to envelope the world in flames has been averted, but it has become increasingly clear that peace is not assured. I should like to be able to offer the hope that the shadow over the world might swiftly pass; I cannot. The facts compel my stating with candor that darker periods may lie ahead.

Unidentified Man #8: You have heard the address by President Roosevelt. This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.

(Soundbite of bell)

Unidentified Man #10: Four great cars, Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto and Chrysler, again bring you your friend, Major Edward Bowes and his original amateur hour. And now here is Major Bowes.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. EDWARD BOWES (Host, "Major Bowes Amateur Hour"): First tonight, John Tucker, the whistling wizard, and where are you from, John?

Mr. JOHN TUCKER: Oh, I'm a Londoner, Major Bowes. I came over here about two weeks ago. But I was going to one of your universities here, but the pound sterling has dropped so low that I very much doubt whether I can do it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. TUCKER: I believe, though, that I am the only person who can do whistling in counterpoint.

Mr. BOWES: You mean whistle two different melodies at the same time? Can you manage a Bach fugue?

Mr. TUCKER: Yes, Major Bowes, strangely enough, I can.

(Soundbite of music)

(Soundbite of whistling)

Unidentified Man #11: Good evening, everyone. We know that the advance lines of the French and Germans have been for more than two weeks now in constant contact with each other. Casualties have run into thousands have killed and wounded. Nevertheless, warfare on the grand scale has not yet begun. What will Hitler do now? Read that riddle, and you'll have the answer to the question in 10 million times 10 million axis hearts.

(Soundbite of bell)

Unidentified Man #12: 12 o'clock midnight, WJSV Washington.

BRAND: One day of radio as heard on station WJSV on September 21st, 1939. Our story comes from independent producer Ben Shapiro.

(Soundbite of music)

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

You are listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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