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During World War II, the art of reporting changed from announcing what had happened to describing what was happening, changing listeners' expectations along with it. From Hitler's early invasion threats to the final surrender ceremonies, news became sudden, current, and concise. Although the pace of news slowed at war's end, America's appetite for information intensified. In addition to expecting more news more often, there were (for many Americans anyway) more leisure-time options, more gadgets with which to enjoy it all, and the post-war prosperity to make it possible.
The five radio broadcasts presented here come from original studio transcription disc recordings in the Arthur B. Church - KMBC Radio Collection in the Marr Sound Archives.
Click on the radiobuttons below to listen to the newscasts.
|Brief Descriptions of Audio Sound Files with Related Links|
Even as the war dragged on, home-front listeners looked to the future and a return to normalcy. And just what would the future hold? A lasting peace? United nations? An atomic age? What were America's concerns as the war crept slowly to its conclusion? This General Electric ad from the June 26, 1944 edition of "The World Today," suggests that one concern was "what post-war radio and television sets will be like."
Throughout the course of the war, broadcasters mobilized, technology developed, and journalism matured. While covering the war was taxing, reporting the peace proved just as hectic. In a few short years, broadcast journalism had moved away from the dramatizations and after-the-fact commentaries of the 1930s to the eyewitness reports, global transmissions, and orchestrated media spectacles of the war years. This August 14, 1945 broadcast, just minutes after the official word of the Japanese surrender was released by President Truman, finds the CBS newsroom abuzz with clattering teletypes, harried staffers, and Bob Trout directing traffic. Also featured is Washington correspondent Bill Henry reporting on Truman's response, and the national anthem offered as a fitting conclusion.
Now in the midst of a welcome but anxious peace, radio began its slow return to normalcy, with war news giving way to singing and dancing, comedy routines, and baseball games. In this Armed Forces Radio broadcast of September 2, 1945, carried by networks worldwide, Bing Crosby sums up the nation's post-war hopes and dreams in what he aptly describes a "Marconi handshake."
Following the Allied victory, with both
optimism and ingenuity at full bloom, educational programming flourished.
One show, "America's Town Meeting of the Air," offered information
as well as controversy for more than two decades. The program combined
audience participation, a panel of intelligent commentators, and a full
spectrum of opinion in a true test of airwave democracy. In this undated
post-war broadcast, circa-1946, the topic is "What Does the Returning
GI Expect at Home?" The commentator is possibly the most famous and
beloved GI of World War II, Bill Mauldin.
In 1946, American industry was shifting
back to domestic production, and radio was booming. More sets were in
more homes than ever before, most Americans relied on radio for news,
and radio was now available in six million cars. However, competition
was also booming, with the LP, 45, and transistor all introduced within
the next year; FM radio on the rise; television slowly creeping into more
American homes; and many networks losing their local affiliates. Radio's
days were numbered, and within a decade its dominance would all but disappear.
Voices of World War II: Experiences From the Front and at Home
|A project in partnership with the Truman
Presidential Museum and Library.
Audio from the collections of the Marr Sound Archives - Department of Special Collections.
Miller Nichols Library - University of Missouri - Kansas City.
|© 2001-2004 UMKC University Libraries. All Rights Reserved.||'Voices' Home Page|
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