The First Lady of Radio: Eleanor Roosevelt's Historic Broadcasts

The First Lady of Radio: Eleanor Roosevelt's Historic Broadcasts

by Stephen Drury Smith
     
 


On the afternoon of December 7, 1941, as a stunned nation gathered around the radio to hear the latest about Pearl Harbor, Eleanor Roosevelt was preparing for her weekly Sunday evening national radio program. At 6:45 p.m., listeners to the NBC Blue network heard the First Lady’s calm, measured voice explain that the president was conferring with his top…  See more details below

Overview


On the afternoon of December 7, 1941, as a stunned nation gathered around the radio to hear the latest about Pearl Harbor, Eleanor Roosevelt was preparing for her weekly Sunday evening national radio program. At 6:45 p.m., listeners to the NBC Blue network heard the First Lady’s calm, measured voice explain that the president was conferring with his top advisors to address the crisis. It was a remarkable broadcast. With America on the verge of war, the nation heard first not from their president, but from his wife.

Eleanor Roosevelt's groundbreaking career as a professional radio broadcaster is almost entirely forgotten. As First Lady, she hosted a series of prime time programs that revolutionized how Americans related to their chief executive and his family. Now, The First Lady of Radio rescues these broadcasts from the archives, presenting a carefully curated sampling of transcripts of Roosevelt's most famous and influential radio shows, edited and set into context by award-winning author and radio producer Stephen Drury Smith. With a foreword by Roosevelt's famed biographer, historian Blanche Wiesen Cook, The First Lady of Radio is both a historical treasure and a fascinating window onto the power and the influence of a pioneering First Lady.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/15/2014
In her time, Eleanor Roosevelt redefined the role of First Lady, and one of the ways she did so was through her constant public communication with the U.S. citizens. Smith, executive editor and host of American Radio Works, has selected transcripts of broadcasts from 1932 to 1945, including important addresses on the bombing of Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and V-E Day, as well as several aimed at the woman of the day. Eleanor didn’t shy away from difficult topics; an advocate for women, she promoted the value of the female wartime labor force on the home front. She also grasped that social roles were changing for women. The fact that her show was commercially sponsored by the likes of Sweetheart Soap and Pond’s Cold Cream opened her up to criticism, as did some of her other political activities, such as her stint as an assistant director for volunteer coordination in the Office of Civilian Defense, a post she had to give up after only five months. The book includes her response to some of these charges, in “Answering Her Critics.” Smith provides accurate context for the transcripts, and, though they do not make for great literature, they’re an intriguing glimpse into the social and political changes of the period. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

Praise for Say It Plain:

“History really does come alive in Say it Plain. This unique collection is a wonderfully rich resource.”
—Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children's Defense Fund

Say It Plain captures that passion from some of America’s greatest speechmakers."
—Congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-IL)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781620970423
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
10/14/2014
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
660,212
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

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