March 12, 2013
FDR GAVE 1ST FIRESIDE CHAT 80 YEARS AGO TODAY
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke into a radio microphone at the White House 80 years ago today, March 12, 1933 & began the 1st of his historic 'Fireside Chats.'*
*The term 'fireside chats' was coined by CBS News correspondent Robert Trout although FDR did not deliver the addresses from a room that had a working fireplace. Perhaps the term applies more to the audience gathered around their radio sets in the living room by the hearth.
The broadcast, which started at 10 p.m., marked the 1st time most Americans had heard the voice of a president of the United States.
Just a couple of days after FDR's death in April 1945, Carl Carmer said:
"I never saw him--but I knew him. Can you have forgotten how, with his voice, he came into our house, the President of these United States, calling us friends?'
Used for the Fireside Chats
National Museum of American History
The topic of the 1st fireside chat was "On the Bank Crisis".**
FDR, in his customary clear & confident voice, told the nation about why so many banks had failed & what was in the process of being done by his administration to correct the problem.
In his 13 minute & 42 second talk, FDR said:
"I hope you can see, my friends, from this essential recital of what your government is doing that there is nothing complex, nothing radical in the process."
**By 1933, 9000 U.S. banks had closed down permanently. FDR's 31 radio talks between 1933 & 1944 did much to give Americans confidence in their President & the federal government.
FDR received letters from millions of listeners. Eighty percent of the words FDR used in the chats were "among the 1000 most commonly used words in the English vocabulary."
The Museum of Broadcast Communication, "Flashback: The 70th anniversary of FDR's Fireside Chats," by Diana Mankowski & Raissa Jose.