Radio News Broadcasts - World War II

Radio News Coverage of D-Day

The following is an excerpt from News on the Air by Paul White of CBS News. Thanks to John Ross for providing this excerpt.

In anticipation of "D-Day," four-network conferences among the various network news directors . . together with Army public relations officers . . were weekly and semiweekly occurrences. Our Army-installed and operated circuit to London passed through all four network offices. In that way everyone knew the business of everyone else. It was customary for one of us in New York to take down and pass along important messages to our rivals; the same thing happened in London. In the height of the excitement "pool" broadcasts--those available to all networks--were the rule rather than the exception. The teamwork and sportsmanship were, in a word, magnificent.

All of us knew, of course, that the invasion of continental Europe from the west was coming. The only question was when. The preparations were of all types--covering personnel, technical installations, advice to everyone who might possibly be concerned. Late in February I sent out a memorandum which said in part:

Military experts have warned us that a frontal attack on Hitler's fortress may cost a record number of casualties. But bad handling of the news may cost plenty of casualties, too, either because the workers at home may believe prematurely that the war has been won and take it easy, or because they worry unnecessarily and are not able to do their jobs. Accordingly, as far as Columbia is concerned, let's stick to these few general instructions:

1. No matter what the general tenor of the news, keep an informative, unexcited demeanor at the microphone.

2. Give sources. Be sure to label every report that is not officially released. Recently there have been at least two instances where this practice has paid off. One was at the Anzio Beachhead, where German claims of victory proved to be unfounded. The other was at Truk, where the Japanese tried to make the world believe that American forces had landed. As a rule of thumb, let us in every case "lead" with the latest Allied communique or report from one of our own correspondents and then, if there are contrary reports either from enemy or friendly sources, label them and subordinate them. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that accuracy should never be risked for the sake of a prospective "beat".

Should the flash come between 2:00 AM and 5:00 AM on weekdays, call Master Control. Order up the network. A recorded program of music is set to run for 55 minutes; cut in and out of it as you wish . .

Call all key personnel. Miss Gauss [my secretary] will check on arrangements for delivery of coffee to news staff.

Advise the AT&T and RCA to set up monitors for us on their London circuits . . In addition to the London circuits, we will have an Army Signal Corps circuit from London (handled through the AT&T) and known as "FAX". This circuit will not begin to function for us until the invasion has actually begun, but thereafter we will maintain a constant 24-hour monitor on it in Studio 9. Most of our coordination messages will be handled over FAX. But if the West-to-East FAX circuit is tied up when we want to get a service message to London, we can send such a message through the War Department Signal Center in Washington . . 50 words . . address "ARL 470 FOR RELAY TO MOI."

In addition, keep a constant monitor on BBC through an extension from the short-wave listening post. The listening post is to be fully manned. Attached you will find a list of foreign expert-consultants in New York, to be called at any hour.

Less that three weeks before "D-Day," there appeared on the wall of Studio 9 a pine cupboard that looked like a medicine cabinet. It was locked, and there were 11 numbered keys given to 11 newsmen, at least one of whom was scheduled to be in the newsroom at any hour, day or night. Inside the cabinet was a microphone attached to a good deal of wire that would stretch to a view of any of the 13 automatic printer machines in the newsroom, or any of 5 other machines linking us with cable companies in the adjacent network traffic office. There was also a switch. At any time that switch was depressed a fraction of an inch, the entire network would be shunted aside and that microphone would become the main-line express. All intermediate controls would be abolished and whatever was said into that "flash mike" would have the complete right of way.

Representatives of advertising agencies were called in and told our plans, were asked to have special "D-Day" scripts available in case their programs weren't cancelled out.

On June 1, this communication went out to all affiliates:

Confidential and unpublishable. Beginning tonight, June 2nd, and nightly until further notice, we will operate our full network until 3:05 AM EWT. The decision to start this overtime operation is not based upon any military information, but it will provide additional protection to you in case extraordinary news does develop.
Monday, June 5, was quiet, and no news of any possible invasion had leaked. Actually, I went to bed that night with a pretty fair idea I would have a good night's sleep. The War Department had told me that Ed Murrow had been selected as the radio voice to read General Eisenhower's proclamation, and that night at 6:45 PM EST (which was 12:45 AM on D-Day itself in London) I talked with Murrow on a two-way "cue channel". These conversations are not usually heard by the general public, although at the time all conversations were listened to carefully by censors in New York and London.

Mindful of this censorship and still trying to get a hint from Murrow, I said:

"Well I suppose I may be talking with you later tonight."

"No," he said, "I'm pretty tired and planning to get to bed early."

That was enough for me. I told the staff it was improbable we would get any action that night, and I went to my hotel room two blocks away from the studios prepared to do some sleeping while the sleeping was good.

But the sleep for a good many hours come ended violently at 12:37 AM. The AP machine carried a bulletin that began:

New York, June 6--(AP)--The German transocean news service has announced that the Allied invasion has begun.
Jesse Zousmer, the editor on duty, dialed extension 694--my hotel room was on the inter-office communication system in order to by-pass switchboards and thus save precious seconds--and told me the news. I said I'd be over within 10 minutes. Then still tieless but otherwise dressed, I called him back.

"Any confirmation?" I asked.

"Nope" said Zousmer, "but INS is now carrying the German report, too."

"Oke," I said, "put it on the air."

Ned Calmer, who had finished his own day's work at the microphone, but had stayed on to write a script in French for the Office of War Information, sauntered into the newsroom just as Zousmer hung up. Calmer said later he had never seen anybody as frightened as Zousmer. There was no announcer on hand at the time, and Zousmer was about to make his debut on the air with one of the most important stories of all time.

"What in the hell is the matter with you?" Calmer asked. "You look like you're going to sneeze or die."

Zousmer held out a trembling hand.

"Here," he said, "put this on the air." And these were Calmer's first words into the microphone:

We are interrupting this program to bring you a special bulletin. A bulletin has just been received from the London office of the Associated Press which quotes the German Transocean News Agency as asserting that the invasion of Western Europe has begun.

This report--and we stress it is of enemy origin with absolutely no confirmation from Allied source--says that American landings were made this morning on the shores of northwestern France.

There is as yet no reason to believe that this report is anything more than a German propaganda move or a fishing expedition for information. You will recall that Prime Minister Churchill warned us not long ago that the actual invasion would be preceded by feints and diversions. Nevertheless, until confirmation or denial of this German report is forthcoming, the CBS World News staff is standing by and will bring you developments as reported.

Thereafter both Calmer and a hastily summoned announcer, Ed Darlington, kept putting on news at intervals, carefully qualifying every German report. I arrived in the office, called Washington on the 24-hour-a-day private telephone that linked the New York and Washington offices, and tried to see if there were any sign of confirmation. No word except that "more lights than usual are on at the War Department" and that some public relations officers could not be reached at their homes. Presumably, they too had been routed out of bed.

Zousmer was still on the telephone, as were others of the overnight staff, calling in the personnel necessary for the night. Soon after 1:15, fearful that some of the stations might be planning to leave the air, I had Darlington tell the public (and the stations themselves) that we were planning to stay on the air all might, regardless of whether the news was confirmed. Then I tried all available circuits to London. I pressed button after button, hauled over the small microphone on my desk, and kept up a monotonous chant, "Hello London . . Hello London . . CBS New York calling London . . Hello London." No answer.

Then the short-wave listening station picked up a clue. The BBC in London, speaking to Europe, was overheard to tell citizen who lived along the Atlantic coast within 18 miles of the beach to stay off roads and railways and bridges . . It was still more bewildering when, from somewhere, came a report that the invasion was in the vicinity of Cherbourg, and a few minutes after that the BBC started warning Dutch listeners in their native language. Some or all of this was certainly a smoke screen. We simply couldn't be attacking all the way from Cherbourg to Holland.

At 3:07 the loud bell rang on the War Department special phone. This, I thought, was it. I picked up the phone only to hear an unidentified voice saying the War Department was making a routine check of the circuit.

"Come in, one at a time, all network," said the voice."Give the name of your company and your own name." Four frantic persons in four frantic newsrooms answered the roll-call. "Thanks," said the voice. "When are you going to have anything definite?" I asked. "Get back to you later. Good-bye," said the War Department.

The coffee and sandwiches had arrived. One of the first persons called that night was a caterer. Trout talked on and on. The minutes were lumbering tortoises hanging with all their weight to the red second hand of the clock. Then, at 3:27 the War Department bell clanged a single, long imperative. Once more, a roll call. Then said the voice:

"Stand by for an important message over the FAX Army Signal Corps Channel at 3:32:zero. Repeating, stand by for an important message over the FAX Army Signal Corps Channel at 3:32:zero. Come in and confirm please."

We all confirmed. I wigwagged to Trout to give his microphone to Major Eliot, and let the later talk for a few minutes. Then I explained to Trout that he was to switch to London at 3:32:00, but not to say anything about the War Department's call before switching. Enemy ears might be listening and if, in fact, there were no invasion, I didn't want anyone tipped off ahead of the announcement.

There was time to tell Jimmy Sirmons of network operations what was going to happen, and he in turn told the control room. Someone popped his head in the door and said the phone company had reported all 143 stations still on the air and waiting. I nodded and watched that red second hand.

I vaguely heard Trout, who had taken back the microphone from Major Eliot. Just ahead of 3:32 there came the words, "And now, for a special announcement, we take you to London."

One second. Two. Three. Four. At five seconds after the minute the senior public relations officer of SHEAF, Col. R. Ernest Dupuy, began to speak. In 26 words he tells the story:

"Under the Command of General Eisenhower, Allied Naval Forces, supported by strong Air Forces, began landing Allied Armies this morning on the northern coast of France."

D-Day Coverage, Additional Notes

The first word of the Allied invasion came from Berlin radio about 12:30 a.m. Eastern War Time. CBS quoted from Berlin Radio's 1 a.m. EWT broadcast to North America, monitored by Columbia's shortwave listening station:
Here is a special bulletin. Early this morning, the long-awaited British and American invasion began when paratroops landed in the area of the Seine estuary. The harbor of LeHavre is being fiercely bombarded at the present moment. Naval forces of the German navy are off the coast, fighting with enemy landing vessels. We have just brought you a special bulletin.
For about three hours, the American media were unsure whether the German reports were true. The CBS announcer cautioned "Please remember two things. Prime Minister Churchill has warned us that there will be many allied feints - deceptive moves - and we've also been told to expect an invasion story similar to that we're now relaying to you from the Germans. In this way, the Nazis might hope to make the patriots in the conquered countries reveal themselves, and thus reduce the effectiveness of these groups when our landing does actually start."

The announcer then quoted other German reports and said, "Please remember that the War Department in Washington has no information on these German reports. Although there is no reason to believe the enemy reports, CBS will remain in operation overtime tonight until the facts are known. We repeat: this network will operate beyond regular time until the German report has been verified or has been proved erroneous."

CBS broadcast band music in the early morning hours and Robert Trout, who anchored the overnight coverage, read from the various wire services, which were quoting German radio reports. At about 3:30 a.m., CBS switched to London to broadcast the communique from the Allies which confirmed that the invasion was underway. Trout then read the same announcement on the Office of War Information wire:





                                3:34AM WASHINGTON
Trout was assisted by CBS's military analyst, Maj. George Fielding Eliot. There were numerous broadcasts from Europe by Edward R. Murrow and pool reporters for the U. S. networks. Trout was relieved later in the morning by Douglas Edwards.

Elizabeth McLeod

The following posts by Elizabeth McLeod, a broadcast journalist and a free-lance broadcast historian specializing in the late 1920s and early 1930s, are reproduced with her permission.

Date: Tue, 13 Jul 99 07:28:53 -0400
From: Elizabeth McLeod
Subject: Re: Farewell to Studio 9/Pearl Harbor

The interesting thing is that Daly himself is being interviewed as they play the tape, which is the notorious Philharmonic interruption, which we all know was not actually the case. In the Studio Nine interview, Daly, himself says something to the effect "I was standing out there in the newsroom, looking over the machines waiting for any last minute things that came in and this Pearl Harbor announcement hit, and I came in and broke into the Philharmonic concert to announce that Pearl Harbor had been attacked." Then they play the "faked" version.

I've always wondered what the deal was with this myself. At the time the first bulletin hit -- 2:22 PM EST -- Daly would have been acting as announcer/narrator for the program then on the air, "Spirit Of '41." That's not to say he might not have had the chance to duck out and check the wires, but I suspect that some news-department operative would have been more likely to be doing that.

I've seen conflicting reports on what happened on CBS between 2:22pm and 2:30 PM -- there are statements that Daly broke into "Spirit Of '41" at approximately 2:25 PM to read the initial bulletin, and there have also been statements that CBS chose to wait until its regularly-scheduled news period at 2:30 to go with the report. No recordings are known of the "Spirit Of '41" broadcast, so unless someone can get access to the CBS logs for 12/7, this question will remain unresolved. (If someone has seen these logs, please post the details!!)

I guess it surprises me that given the production that the "Farewell to Studio Nine" was supposed to be, with its emphasis on the history that passed through that studio, that even the person who made the broadcast would also perpetuate that myth. But then that's exactly what Bob Trout confessed to doing in this new NPR clip. Is this the source of that Philharmonic fake? I don't have a date on those "I Can Hear It Now" LPs, so I am not sure which came first.

The first "I Can Hear It Now" album, covering the 1933-45 period, was released by Columbia in the winter of 1948 -- and was an extremely big seller. By the time "Farewell To Studio Nine" was produced in 1964, the "I Can Hear It Now" series had penetrated the public consciousness to the point where the fake Pearl Harbor clip had actually become the reality for most people. (And therein lies the danger of doing cut-and-paste jobs on history...)


Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 09:21:33 -0500
From: Elizabeth McLeod
Subject: Re: Fudging History

The simple explanation here is that whoever preserved this material simply dubbed the transcription discs out of order....which is fine, except that's not the whole story. It seems clear that somebody, somewhere has gone to some lengths to tamper with these broadcasts before putting them into circulation.

This is a subject that really needs to get brought out into the open -- not just as it relates to the Pearl Harbor broadcasts, but to other sorts of OTR, because it's a prime example of what can happen when the "just want to listen" approach runs into conflict with the archival approach. I don't know precisely who put the doctored CBS Pearl Harbor recordings into circulation, but they've been floating around since the 1970s, and at least some of them were line checks made at WCCO in Minneapolis. They may have been some enthusiast's idea of "restoration" based on what that enthusiast understood the sequence of events to be -- how else to explain the bogus John Daly cut from "I Can Hear It Now" being clumsily spliced into the middle of the Philharmonic broadcast excerpt. The whole thing sounds to me like it might have been some sort of cheapie LP reissue from the early 1970s, but I don't know for sure -- I've never seen such an LP, and even if one exists, I doubt the liner notes would admit to the improper manipulation of the source materials. I first became acquainted with these recordings with a "Radio Reruns" cassette which I picked up at a bookstore in 1978 -- and there was certainly no documentation of the source materials provided or any indication on the packaging that the recording had been tampered with.

But whoever is responsible, the point is simple. A false history has been created, and with no access to the source discs -- and no documentation of the changes that have been made -- serious broadcast historians are unable to undo the damage. And, the lesson is simple for those of us who regularly work with original discs: no matter how tempting it might be to "reconstruct" portions of a program, by pasting in openings or closings from another broadcast (as was done many years ago with several circulating "I Love A Mystery" sequences) or pasting commercials into syndication recordings, or pasting unrelated segments together into a "composite" program, or otherwise altering the original recording - don't. And if you can't resist the temptation to do so, please -- at least fully document what's been done, and make sure that documentation goes out with every copy of the show that's circulated.

We like to characterize the OTR hobby as a preservation-oriented activity -- and indeed, private collectors have done a vital job over the years in rescuing materials that would otherwise have been lost. But preservation also carries a serious responsibility to ensure that we're not misrepresenting the materials we handle -- broadcasting history has been distorted enough over the decades by myths, exaggerations, and legends without the OTR community making it worse by the circulation of deliberately-fudged recordings.


From: Elizabeth McLeod
Date: 3/23/00 10:54 AM Eastern Standard Time

I have at home a book that contains CBS transcripts of their broadcasts on December 7, so I will research that and report back to you what they published in book form about the bulletin. I do recall that the text is different from what is on the recording. The text will also confirm the air time of the cut-in by Daly.

Since my last post, I've come across a citation from the CBS publication "From Pearl Harbor To Tokyo," which states that Daly's first announcement came at 2:31 PM, and was therefore the lead story in the scheduled 2:30 newscast. The wording cited in the text matches the second part of the edited material from "I Can Hear It Now," indicating that after the opening announcement of the newscast, Daly led with the story -- "The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor Hawaii by air, President Roosevelt has just announced." There was no "special bulletin" at all -- it was simply the lead story on a scheduled news period.

Since this account was prepared in 1945, by the CBS Publicity department itself, it confirms to me that CBS failed to interrupt regular programming to announce the attack -- and also confirms that NBC beat CBS onto the air with the news since both Red and Blue took a bulletin at 2:29 PM, just as "Great Plays" was moving into its mid-show break on Blue and the Sammy Kaye Serenade was ending on Red. In New York at least, WOR beat both NBC and CBS, with Len Sterling breaking into a Brooklyn Dodgers-New York Giants football broadcast at approximately 225 PM, just three minutes after the first bulletin moved on the wire services. This announcement didn't go over the full Mutual network, however -- according to Radio Guide listings for December 7th, 1941, the 2pm to 3pm period was a local availability for Mutual stations, and they were carrying their own programming.

As for the recording of news programming: In a book I have a copy of that covers their D-day broadcasts, there is a line in which Paul White tells his staff "Record everything from now on." Does this indicate to you that they may have had their own in-house service?

By 1944, CBS did use its Columbia Records division to make reference recordings -- I have several examples with greyish-purple labels and the Magic Notes/CBS Microphone logo. But these weren't made on the CBS premises -- the Columbia studio was over on 7th Avenue, connected to the network by direct line. White could have simply been telling the staff to notify 7th Avenue to keep the machines running until further notice - but strictly speaking this wasn't "in house." And, I should stress, this system wasn't in use in 1941 -- the earliest Columbia Reference Recording labels I've seen date to January 1943.

A retired engineer who worked at CBS New York in the mid-forties once told me that CBS had no recording equipment on premises until late in the decade. I don't know if I totally believe that -- there's some evidence that CBS News had acquired a set of machines in 1938 to preserve coverage of the Anschluss and the Sudeten Crisis, but there is no evidence to indicate that these machines were in regular use for archiving news. CBS New York made no effort at all to preserve newscasts during the early years of the war - the only reason any of this material survives today is because KIRO in Seattle recorded the material off the line for delayed broadcast and saved the discs, a collection now preserved at the University of Washington. This material is also supplemented by material recorded during the mid-forties by WBBM in Chicago -- but D-day appears to be the first substantial effort made by New York to arrange for the preservation of important news material.

And what can you tell me about "Wilderness Road?" I've never been able to find it in any compilation of programs.

This was a juvenile serial about life in pioneer times, following the adventures of a family of colonial-era explorers. It had its first run over CBS in 1936-37, and was re-staged from the original scripts for a second run in 1944-45.

Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 21:22:23 -0500
From: Elizabeth McLeod
Subject: Re: NBC Pearl Harbor Recordings

My question today is - are there now any better-sounding copies? Has any of this stuff ever been cleaned up and restored? I'm certainly hoping so, since we're not dealing with PINTO PETE but with American history itself.

Unfortunately not -- these discs were the only continuous recordings that NBC saved for its Pearl Harbor coverage. They weren't paper discs - they were "Memovox" recordings, made on a dictation-type machine that NBC used to make crude-and-dirty reference recordings for logging purposes.

Memovox was never intended as a preservation medium, and it was never designed for high-quality audio reproduction. The quality of the Pearl Harbor discs was further compromised by the fact that many of them suffered from groove creep -- the recording process involved embossing a groove on a floppy plastic disc, and the groove tends to disappear over time as the compression imposed on the plastic surface by the recording head gradually relaxes. Had the recordings actually been made on paper-based discs, it's likely they would be of much better quality than the Memovox recordings.

The transfers of these discs put into circulation a decade ago have already been heavily processed, and I suspect that any further attempts at tricking them up electronically would cause more defects than they would correct. It would have been nice if NBC had made continuous high-quality lacquers of its Pearl Harbor coverage, as it did with D-day -- but, for whatever reason, they didn't.


Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001 14:44:26 -0500
From: Elizabeth McLeod
Subject: Re: More on NBC Pearl Harbor Recordings

They are (as far as I know--Liz, help me out here) the ONLY known recording of NBC that day (with the exception of Jack Benny's regular transcriptions).

The Memovox discs are the only continuous record of NBC's 12/7/41 broadcasting (and, in fact, they run all the way thru December 8th as well), but the NBC Radio Recording division did make scattered recordings on the regular 16" lacquer discs at various points in the day. Below are listed the 12/7/41 lacquers held in the NBC Collection at the LOC. Programs marked with an asterisk duplicate material found in the Memovox recordings:

  • Organ Recital -- Red -- 805--830am
  • NBC Piano Trio -- Blue -- 815--830am
  • Second Guessers -- Red -- 1200--1230pm
  • Foreign Policy Association -- Blue -- 1200--1215pm (This would be a very interesting program to hear: it was a talk entitled "Japan's Hour of Decision,")
  • "I'm An American" -- Blue -- 1215--1230pm
  • Emma Otero, Western Art Music -- Red -- 1230--100pm
  • Radio City Music Hall -- Blue -- 1230--100pm
  • University of Chicago Round Table -- Red -- 100--130pm
  • *Non-continuous news flashes -- Red and Blue -- six bulletins broadcast between 229pm and 356pm. Multiple dubbings of the 229 bulletin are found on another disc.
  • *Listen America -- Red -- 330--400pm
  • *Wake Up America -- Blue -- 300--400pm
  • *News Reports -- Blue -- 409--423pm
  • *News Reports -- Blue -- 419--500pm (some overlap from previous disc)
  • *News Roundup -- Red -- 515pm--530pm
  • *News -- Blue -- 615--630pm
  • *Eleanor Roosevelt -- Blue -- 645--700pm
  • *World News Roundup -- Blue -- 700--730pm
  • *George Putnam News -- WEAF Local -- 1100--1115pm
  • *World News Roundup -- Red and Blue -- 1130pm--1200am

As can be seen, these recordings are far from the continuous record supplied by the Memovox discs, and include none of the entertainment-related programming aired that day. Apparently, all the network was interested in preserving in high-quality form was the news highlights of the day, and most of that material seems to be here. But only the poor-quality Memovox discs preserve the full context of the original coverage. None of this high-quality Pearl Harbor material is circulating, as far as I know, despite the fact that a great deal of NBC news material has been bootlegged over the years.


Date: Mon, 9 DEC 2002 16:17:54 -0500
From: Elizabeth McLeod
Subject: Re: Pearl Harbor Interruptions

(Does anyone have the details on what NBC Red, NBC Blue and the Columbia Network were carrying at the time they broke in with the news?)

The break on NBC was fed simultaneously over Red and Blue, with the insert coming on the Red Network just at the conclusion of the Sammy Kaye Serenade program. On the Blue, the break came just about halfway thru a "Great Plays" production of "The Inspector General."

CBS did not interrupt regular programming at all to broadcast the first flash, faked recordings to the contrary (and this may be why Murrow and Friendly found it necessary to fake a recording in the first place: in retrospect, they might have thought it made CBS look bad that they were the last network to air the news of the attack.) The first CBS announcement of the attack came as the lead item on the regularly-scheduled 2:30pm news period.

I believe the interruption during the Dodgers-Giants football game was only on WOR, not the full Mutual network -- I've not seen any evidence that the game was fed to the network or carried anywhere outside of New York. Other Mutual stations for which I've seen December 7th listings show only local programming for this time period.


Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2002 10:04:59 -0500
From: Elizabeth McLeod
Subject: Re: Pearl Harbor Interruptions

Okay... then when did the Mutual Network break into any of its program feeds (if they indeed did so) and what Mutual programming was interrupted? I have re-listened to a clip I downloaded a few years ago, of the Dodgers-Giants game where it is interrupted with the announcement, and yes, it only mentioned WOR, not the "full" Mutual network. But I gave it a filename of "Mutual-Pearl.mp3", probably because it was WOR, the New York City "key" station of Mutual, and I thought that it was something fed to the full network.

As far as I can see from Northern Atlantic Region station listings as published in Movie-Radio Guide there could have been network interruptions in Rev. Charles E. Fuller's Old Fashioned Revival Hour -- which aired on certain Colonial Network stations (Mutual's New England leg) during the 2 to 3 pm period. It's not clear, though, if this was a live network feed or a transcription broadcast: Fuller used both. If there were interruptions though, they probably would have come from the Yankee News Service newsroom and not from WOR-Mutual.

Colonial (plus WNAC, a Yankee station -- the Yankee and Colonial Networks had a common ownership) carried "The Shadow" at 430 PM -- possibly from a transcription. No Mutual programming appears for WOR itself until 530, when "The Shadow" airs for New York. There would likely have been interruptions -- if the program aired at all.

Again, this is strictly Northern Atlantic Region. Given the decentralized, fragmented way in which Mutual operated during this era -- there was no single "Mutual feed," but rather a variety of regional circuits that fed different programming at different times -- I can't tell you what might have been going into the Midwestern section of the network via WGN, or what the Don Lee Network would have been broadcasting to the west.

Fragments of WOR's Pearl Harbor coverage exist at the Library of Congress -- and I mean fragments, since many of the glass-based discs are cracked or broken. The earliest WOR recording from the afternoon of 12/7 dates to 345 PM, and is a 6 minute pickup from Los Angeles, containing a late news summary. This suggests that WOR had dumped the football game and that the network was fully operational within an hour or so of the news breaking. The next fragment is a 5 PM newscast by Frank Blair and commentator Richard Eaton. This program originates at WOL, Washington, and is clearly a network pickup. The program listing shows a Blue Barron band remote slated for 5 PM on WOR, but no other Mutual station -- and that program is scrapped in favor of the news summary.

Mutual apparently did not go to continuous coverage, but there were several substantial news broadcasts inserted over the course of the evening. The highlight of the coverage from what I've heard of it was an 1130 PM roundup of man-in-the-street opinion including pickups from several Mutual affiliates. The most interesting portion comes from Times Square in New York, with WOR's Dave Driscoll interviewing a crowd of increasingly agitated bystanders. One man makes a grab for the microphone and begins denouncing the Roosevelt administration, but Driscoll cuts him off before he can get a full sentence out and he is taken away. A woman declares that it's time to "round up every Jap in the country" and Driscoll notes that Mayor LaGuardia has asked all New Yorkers of Japanese ancestry to stay off the streets for their own safety. It's quite obvious that emotions are running high and Driscoll is clearly flustered thru much of this broadcast.


Date: Thu, 2 Apr 98 08:32:43 -0500
From: Elizabeth McLeod (
Subject: Re: Hicks D-Day feeds

Forgot to mention that according to the article on D-day broadcast journalism I mention in a previous note, the author John McDonough implies that CBS broadcast the recording first. This was a full 36 hours after it was recorded. He mentions 11:15 PM on June 7th, Eastern War Time. Anyone know if CBS was the first to broadcast it?

McDonough is partially correct -- the MOST FAMOUS portion of the report was heard on the night of June 7th. But it was a pool broadcast, available to all networks, and not an exclusive CBS feed. What's most interesting, though, is that the report was broadcast in two parts, with the first half of the report heard the previous evening.

CBS and NBC (and presumably Mutual and Blue) aired the first segment of the Hicks piece simultaneously, from a faulty BBC pool feed -- on the night of June 6th.

At exactly 11:30 PM, NBC aired the following announcement:

"In a few seconds, we will take you to London for the first eyewitness account of the actual invasion of France by sea -- of the landing of Allied troops on a French beachhead. War correspondent George Hicks saw those landings from the bridge of an Allied warship, and thru the ingenuity of radio wire (sic) recording, the National Broadcasting Company is able to give you the story as witnessed by George Hicks in a pool broadcast. So, now, NBC takes you to London for the first eyewitness account of the actual invasion of Europe!"

At the same moment, Bob Trout of CBS came on the air with this:

"We are about to bring you from London the first eyewitness recording of the shore bombardment preceding the actual landings of the invasion on D-day, and a description of Allied landing craft going into the beach. A recording made by George Hicks representing the combined American networks. So, we take you now to London, to hear George Hicks in a recording made aboard an American warship at sea. Go ahead, London!"

Both networks then switched over to the BBC circuit, which offered only static and drifting bursts of Morse code, and, at 40 seconds in, what sounded like the voice of a young boy saying "I'm in the crowd out..." CBS cut away from the dead circuit before the boy's voice, returning to Trout in New York. NBC continued with the static a bit longer before cutting back for an explanatory announcement.

Finally, at 1:15 in, Hicks' voice is heard, describing sky conditions. He continues for 59 seconds, describing the LSTs, and then his voice is lost. leaving only static. After about fifteen seconds of this, NBC broke in with another explanatory announcement:

"Ladies and gentlemen, apparently atmospherics have again interfered with our rebroadcast of an account of the invasion by George Hicks from London. We again take you to London!"

NBC then switched back to London only to hear Charles Shaw with a closing announcement: " now to the United States." Then, more static. A heavy, frustrated sigh is heard, then the irritated voice of Shaw: "Hello, New York! Didn't you get that???" Angry voices can be heard muttering behind Shaw, and NBC quickly cut off the feed, hastily switching to Chicago for music fill by Roy Shield and his Orchestra.

CBS broadcast the same short clip from Hicks, but instead of immediately returning to New York when Hicks's voice is lost, they air the following explanatory announcement from Shaw in London: "We regret that due to conditions beyond our control the recording of the special broadcast for the American networks by George Hicks will be delayed for a few moments. We return you now to the United States."

Trout then came back on, offering an extemporaneous explanation of the meaning of "Pool Broadcast," and then reading late bulletins. After 2:33 of this, Trout switched back to London, and the Hicks recording was heard from its beginning, running just under ten minutes. Hicks offers a detailed description of the attack fleet, and concludes just as H-Hour arrives.

NBC aired the piece in the same form, except that they cut away during a brief signal loss about eight minutes in, omitting Hicks' concluding remarks.

At 11:15pm EWT, the North American Service of the BBC broadcast the second half of the Hicks recording, beginning with Hicks' statement that "We have yet to see a German plane." This is the most famous portion of the report, with the actual description of the bombardment, and it's NOT included in the circulating NBC or CBS D-day sets, which only run thru the early evening of June 7th. This BBC broadcast was, however, available to the pool, for airing by all participating networks. As I mentioned in a prior posting, a first-generation dub of this broadcast, in its original BBC form, is available from the SPERDVAC archives library.


Date: Fri, 3 APR 98 08:29:00 -0500
From: Elizabeth McLeod (
Subject: Re: Pearl Harbor Coverage

I have often heard John Daly, later the host of What's My Line announce Pearl Harbor. It sticks in my mind that he was working for CBS at the time, tho I could be wrong. It doesn't mean he was the first. It mostly likely means someone had a tape of him rather than someone else who was not "wired" at the time. m Later Daly was the host of TV's What's My Line.

Interestingly, the Daly clip that is most often used to illustrate Pearl Harbor is partially faked.

Everyone's heard the "We interrupt this program for a special announcement ... the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by air!" This clip originated from the Columbia "I Can Hear It Now" album produced in the late 40s by Ed Murrow and Fred Friendly. The Pearl Harbor part is authentic, in that it was taken from an actual CBS newscast of December 7th, but the "We Interrupt This Program" part actually comes from Daly's announcement of the death of FDR in 1945! If you have the "I Can Hear It Now" LP, you can compare the two cuts and see for yourself. Even without the comparison, though, the edit is obvious in listening to the Pearl Harbor cut. Daly broke into a program called "Spirit of '41" at 2:25 PM with his first announcement. The New York Philharmonic program that has been mythologized as the program broken into for the first bulletin actually went on at 3 PM Although it was interrupted for numerous bulletins, they weren't the FIRST bulletins.

CBS coverage continued thru the afternoon, with Daly anchoring the regular Sunday afternoon news roundup at 2:30, and bulletins continuing into the evening. Segments of this coverage are in circulation.

Most of the NBC Pearl Harbor coverage is extant, recorded on mediocre-sounding plastic "Memovox" dictation-type discs. These recordings are more or less continuous from about 2pm on, and appear to have been recorded in New York, judging from the presence of a WJZ station ID in one of the Blue network programs.

At exactly 2:30 PM, Red had just signed off the "Sammy Kaye Serenade" program and Blue was in the midst of a "Great Plays" presentation of "The Inspector General," when this announcement, aired:

"From the NBC Newsroom in New York! President Roosevelt said in a statement today that the Japanese have attacked the Pearl Harbor...Hawaii from the air! I'll repeat that...President Roosevelt says that the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii from the air. This bulletin came to you from the NBC newsroom in New York."

I'm not sure who the announcer was on this bulletin -- the quality of the recording is such that his voice is hard to identify.

Red then joined the "University Of Chicago Round Table" and Blue resumed "Great Plays."

Bulletins continued thru the afternoon, with Red airing a fifteen minute news summary with H. V. Kaltenborn at 3:15. Shortly after 4 PM, "National Vespers" on Blue and the Sylvia Marlowe - Richard Dyer Bennett program on Red were dumped in favor of about an hour's worth of continuous coverage, with a live report from KGU, Honolulu. This is compelling listening -- the announcer, who does not give his name, speaks from the roof of the KGU building, describing the very visible manifestations of the attack, including a bomb which just missed the KGU tower. "This is no joke," he proclaims. "This is real war!!" As he's speaking, the telephone operator interrupts and asks him to clear the line for an emergency call, and the report has to be terminated.

Kaltenborn is heard frequently during the afternoon, as are H. R. Baukhage in Washington and Upton Close, who was NBC's expert on Pacific affairs. I believe the uncredited New York staff announcer during the 4pm report is Robert Denton, but, again, the poor quality of these recordings makes it difficult to be certain.


Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2001 10:33:17 -0400
From: Elizabeth McLeod
Subject: Re: Coverage: Then and Now

was astounded at how different it was from the plethora of non-stop news coverage of last week's events. The NY Philharmonic was interrupted with the newscaster telling the general skeleton of the information that he had just received about the Pearl Harbor bombing, and then went back to playing music of the Philharmonic again. That would be a novel concept in today's media, actually going back to the regular programming until something new developed.

Unfortunately, this particular clip is a proven forgery -- taking the pastiche clip of John Daly "interrupting this program" from the Murrow-Friendly "I Can Hear It Now" album and thrusting it rather clumsily into a fragment of the Philharmonic broadcast. CBS in fact didn't interrupt any programming for the first announcement of the attack -- it was announced by them as the first story of their regularly-scheduled 2:30 PM (EST) newscast. The Philharmonic broadcast did come on next, at 3 PM, and included a roundup-type summary of developing news at the intermission.

In fact, though, neither CBS or NBC went to "continuous coverage" during Pearl Harbor -- although there were long stretches of semi-continuous coverage. Regular programming did continue thru the evening. There may be several reasons for this -- foremost of which were contractual commitments. Sponsors owned the time slots they bought for their programs, and the networks required special permission from those sponsors in order to dump sponsored broadcasts for special news reports, and any portion of a program that was interrupted required compensation for the time lost. It may be that, as the attack came on a Sunday afternoon when advertising agency offices were normally closed, there was simply no chance to obtain the permission of sponsors to dump their programs en masse and clear the schedule for continuous news. This is just an off-the-top of the head theory on my part, and if anyone has researched exactly what happened in the network business offices that afternoon, it would be interesting to hear the story.

The situation with D-day was different -- protocols for the invasion were laid out clearly well in advance for clearing air time, and thus there was a great deal of continuous coverage. NBC, to its credit, ran continuous coverage for over 24 hours after the invasion began -- while CBS, rather embarrassingly, returned to its regular schedule at 10 am on June 6th -- as though anyone could possibly have cared what happened to "Valiant Lady" at that particular point in history. NBC's continuous coverage of D-day was not at all unlike the continuous coverage we've seen lately -- long, long stretches of time-filling commentary taking up the slack between items of hard news, interviews, schmaltzy essays, and patriotic music fill. One may prefer H. V. Kaltenborn's extemporaneous analysis to that of Tom Brokaw -- but they were basically doing the same thing.

All that said, though, I don't really think there's any valid basis to compare what we've seen over the past week with anything broadcast during the OTR era. OTR-era news divisions dealt admirably with the progress of a world war, working in close cooperation with military authorities -- but they never had to deal with a sudden and devastating simultaneous attack on the middle of New York City and the heart of the military from an unknown enemy. Radio City wasn't being evacuated of all non-essential personnel while Kaltenborn was on the air on D-day morning, nor did Richard Harkness suddenly hear an enormous explosion while he was on the air from the Pentagon. How would OTR-era stateside news personnel have responded to such an attack? We'll never know. They never had to face one.


Date: Fri, 3 APR 98 22:27:45 -0500
From: Elizabeth McLeod (
Subject: Re: More on the Hicks Report

Elizabeth mentioned that it was broadcast in two parts. The script of the broadcast in the book starts with "This is George Hicks speaking. I am speaking from a tower above the signal bridge . . ." and goes thru his "recapitulation" and ends "They are already thinking of painting a big star on their chart and will be at that first thing tomorrow morning. . . . It's daylight . . ." How does that match up with the recordings you have, Elizabeth. Did they combine the two broadcasts into one? I have the Crown and the NBC albums, and some tapes but have never gotten them together with this script to compare completeness. I have asked around if anyplace has the original film and have not gotten any positive responses. The film could hold an hour's recording. There are starts and stops but no way of knowing whether all of them are from Hicks starting and stopping or if there were other edits made in playback.

The material aired on the evening of June 6th ran almost exactly ten minutes, and opens as you describe. At the closing of the report (which NBC didn't air, dropping out when the signal faded about two minutes earlier), Hicks signs off with:

"It's now just a couple of minutes past 6:30 in the morning...the first Allied forces are reaching the beaches in France. And that's the latest news that we can bring you from the Invasion beachhead, as it just now reaches H-Hour. This is George Hicks speaking. I now return you to the United States."

That preliminary portion of the report is all that was aired on the night of June 6th on either NBC or CBS.

The second part was apparently fed to the pool by the BBC on the night of June 7th, and following an introduction by the BBC announcer, the recording begins with no intro from Hicks. His first words on the version I have -- from a disc owned by SPERDVAC -- are "We have not yet seen a German plane..." and he then goes on to describe the actual bombardment, complete with the sounds of gunfire and the cheering of the men when they get their first kill. This broadcast runs a little under fifteen minutes, and is concluded by the BBC announcer.

I've also wondered about the fate of the original film -- was nitrate or acetate used with this recording system?

(who offers this trivia question, to break the scholarly mood: What's the connection between George Hicks and the Marx Brothers?)

Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2003 12:56:53 -0400
From: Elizabeth McLeod
Subject: Re: Overseas News Transmissions.

Anyway, as I was reading, I got to wondering about the technical requirements of getting field reports from the battlefield on the air. Before the relaxation of the recording ban, how did the reporter's story get routed from his transmitter in, say, North Africa, to the network in New York and then live to the rest of the country? Yes, I know that field transmissions were on short wave, and picked up somehow. Was it generally one or two hops to get home, i.e., transmit in N Africa, where it's picked up in, say, London, and then retransmitted to NY, etc? Something like that? And another thing. How did he know WHEN to transmit? He finds a story, writes it, and somehow locates a transmitter. How did the reporter know exactly when to start talking?

It was actually a lot less complicated than this -- in fact, the entire process was strictly regimented and carefully controlled by the military authorities. The vast majority of reports were given from central transmitting points administered by Allied forces and made available on an equal basis to all networks. Correspondents would line up in the studio and, one by one, would take a seat at the microphone and deliver their reports, according to a schedule worked out well in advance by the military authorities and transmitted to the engineering departments of each network, often over the same circuit used to transmit the actual reports but sometimes over a separate frequency. Actual live broadcasts "from the field" were all but nonexistent -- most reports came from the safety of a studio, far from the actual combat lines.

In the NBC Collection at the Library of Congress, there are a number of recordings by RCA Communications in New York of raw news feeds from Allied headquarters in North Africa. The reports are counted down and cued by a droning-voiced engineer, and often include successive transmissions by reporters representing NBC, CBS, Mutual, Blue, the BBC, and the CBC, along with not-for-broadcast reports read at dictation speed for the use of the wire services. In these transmissions, the Army engineer can be heard stating something like "Next is Joe Blow reporting for the National Broadcasting Company in New York transmitting two minutes from -- mark. Joe Blow transmitting one minute and forty five seconds from -- mark. Joe Blow transmitting to the National Broadcasting Company in New York one minute and thirty seconds from -- mark. Joe Blow transmitting to the National Broadcasting Company in one minute. One minute from -- mark." And so on until the final countdown: "A report from Joe Blow for NBC in New York in 5 seconds - 4 -- 3 --- 2..." and the final two seconds would be silent to allow the network to pick up the transmission. The New York announcer would be signalled by the engineer to announce the report, and hopefully, the introduction would end by the time of this silent cueing interval, and the report could be smoothly cut into the broadcast. Sometimes this didn't work, and the report would end up being upcut by a second or two, or the wrong circuit would be cut in, or any number of other problems could occur.

But even with these problems, the process was far from random. In fact, the most interesting aspect of these raw feed recordings is the fact that often the reports delivered by the various correspondents are close to word for word identical, indicating that the reporters were often doing nothing but reading what was put in front of them by the military authorities, rather than generating original reports of their own. This wasn't always the case, of course, but neither was it a rarity.


Michael Biel

The following posts by Dr. Michael Biel of Morehead State University are reproduced here with his permission.

Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2003 23:55:38 -0400
Subject: Re: Dr. Biel, Call Surgery

Chris Chandler's summary of the events of the broadcasts of the House debate following FDR's DEC 8 Declaration of War Address is quite correct. I used the recordings of the CBS and Mutual broadcasts for a C-Span broadcast on DEC 7, 1991 which was repeated many times that weekend but never again due to the restrictions of the use of the film of FDR's speech by the archive controlling the Fox Movietone material for 1941. Following the broadcast I deposited the full recordings of the two networks in the National Archive and the Library of Congress, neither of which had these broadcasts nor the film of FDR's speech. My Mutual recording is missing the material before the speech and about two or three minutes following the speech, so if Chris has that first fifteen minute segment, I would love to have a copy of it.

The CBS reporter in the House gallery was Park Simmons, someone we have never been able to trace to any other broadcast. He is not listed as an accredited Congressional reporter, so it might have been an innocent error on his part that the broadcast on CBS continued from the House after the speech was over. Simmons did not talk during the debate broadcast, so this part of the recording is the best way to hear the proceedings. He did pull the plug as soon as he was advised to, and the broadcast then shifted to New York. Over on Mutual, Fulton Lewis, Jr. knew exactly what he was doing, and yes, he can be heard clearly laughing at the idea that he was to stop broadcasting. He did stop a few minutes later, and I bet the aide had brought with him an armed guard to assert his authority over Lewis! Although Lewis kept on talking while many Representatives had the floor, his asides help tell us about the adventure of Janette Rankin trying unsuccessfully to be recognized by the Speaker of the House.

On the C-Span broadcast I had to remove the segments I had included of Park Simmons because at the last minute CBS threatened to charge C-Span $700 a minute for the airing of the voice of any of their reporters. But most of the debate that was heard on C-Span came from the CBS recording until they took the debate of the air, and then I switched to Mutual. The speech was broadcast from the film, and there were two short segments missing. A few months later a friend reminded me that Blackhawk Films had the speech in their catalogs for many years, and I am still surprised why we had not found anyone with this version of the speech film. I'm still looking for a Blackhawk print of the speech just to say I have it. As for the broadcast recordings, CBS does have it in their archive but they don't know it and do not know of its significance. You might remember that in 2001 Walter Cronkite embarrassed himself on NPR when it was evident that he did not know that his own network HAD broadcast the debate. Portions of the CBS broadcast appeared on an LP that was sold at the Pearl Harbor memorial for many years. Sides 2, 3, and 4 of the Mutual broadcast had been found hidden away at WGN, and I also found a home recording of much of the Mutual broadcast in a garage sale around 1971. I'd love to know the background of the Mutual recording that Chris has.

Because the C-Span broadcast was on DEC 7 rather than on the 8th, that left me free that day to go and sit in the House gallery 50 years to the minute of the time of FDR's speech. And then a half hour or so later I went down to the statue gallery to the statue of Janette Rankin, 50 years to the minute from when she tried to speak during the debate before becoming the only Representative to have voted against entry into both WW I and WW II. She may not have been correct, but she had guts. (Of absolutely no interest to some of the people reading this digest is the fact that two statues away is the statue of Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of the Image Dissector TV camera tube.)

Michael Biel

Date: Fri, 03 APR 1998 14:55:06 -0500
From: "Michael Biel" (
Subject: Hicks recording machine

According to an article I have from American Scholar, Spring 1994, the machine is referred to as a Commando model Recordgraph. Is this the same as the ARC Amertype?

Yes, ARC is the manufacturer, Commando is the model. You can see ARC painted in white on the loudspeaker covering. Elizabeth mentions a Frederick Hart machine on display in 1946. I believe this is a different machine. I will have to check thru my files to see what I have on it. I have heard of it before and I might have that magazine myself, but I will try to find my ARC file which even has a blueprint of the machine and a schematic.

Let me add a little to what Elizabeth wrote about the timing of the broadcast.

the author John McDonough implies that CBS broadcast the recording first. This was a full 36 hours after it was recorded. He mentions 11:15 PM on June 7th, Eastern War Time.

Ah, my old pal John McDonough. He won't mind my picking a nit, but according to the book CBS published in 1945 "From D-day to Victory in Europe" the CBS broadcast began at 11:31 P.M., and it is on June 6 not June 7. The book describes it:

11:15 The clear voice of Joan Brooks picks up the air of a song. Now---
11:30 Here is Trout fishing for London, fishing for London.
Here it comes now . . .
11:31 George Hicks (A recording made in action.)

Bob Trout and Quenton Reynolds continued at 11:46. Hicks started recording shortly before 6 A.M., June 6. At the very end of the recording Hicks mentions that it is just past midnight on the morning of June 7. That, of course, is the time and day in Normandy, which according to this book is 6 hours ahead of Eastern War Time. It was STILL JUNE 6, 11:31 P.M. Eastern War Time when the recording was broadcast. Thus, it seems that the recording was played about FIVE hours after it was FINISHED, much quicker than the 36 hours you mention.

Anyone know if CBS was the first to broadcast it?

This was a pool report for all the networks. Unless one of the networks recorded it for airing instead of taking it live, they all could have aired it at the same time. Newspaper reports and Broadcasting magazine probably have the details.

Elizabeth mentioned that it was broadcast in two parts. The script of the broadcast in the book starts with "This is George Hicks speaking. I am speaking from a tower above the signal bridge . . ." and goes thru his "recapitulation" and ends "They are already thinking of painting a big star on their chart and will be at that first thing tomorrow morning. . . . It's daylight . . ." How does that match up with the recordings you have, Elizabeth. Did they combine the two broadcasts into one? I have the Crown and the NBC albums, and some tapes but have never gotten them together with this script to compare completeness. I have asked around if anyplace has the original film and have not gotten any positive responses. The film could hold an hour's recording. There are starts and stops but no way of knowing whether all of them are from Hicks starting and stopping or if there were other edits made in playback.

Michael Biel

Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 01:07:59 -0500
From: Michael Biel
Subject: Re: Mutual's "illegal" pearl harbor broadcast

Much thanks to Eric Cooper for his mention yesterday of my C-SPAN broadcast ten years ago of the debate from the House of Representatives following FDR's Declaration of War address. I've been crafting my letter to NPR to tell them that Cronkite erred when he specifically stated that NBC and CBS switched back to their studios after the speech and that only Mutual did the debate. CBS also did, and the name of their reporter in the House that day was Park Simmons. Who he??? He was not listed as an accredited Capitol correspondent, and I think that this was the reason he continued the broadcast that day. He didn't know any better. He also let it go on without constant interruptions for commentary unlike Mutual's Fulton Lewis Jr. who chatted a lot. When I did the C-SPAN broadcast I edited together the House floor proceedings from both networks' broadcasts, using the recording which was from a closer microphone with no commentary--so most of it was from CBS. So my recording of the debate is more complete than the one Cronkite used.

I should mention that it was not an "illegal" broadcast. It was just against the rules of the House of Representatives. Although there had been a few broadcasts in the 30s of the opening ceremonies of new congresses, other than that only Joint Sessions of the House and Senate could be broadcast when there was an important speech. The Joint Session ended when the Senators left the chamber, and that is when the broadcast should have ended. When the recess was declared and then when the House was brought back in order, both commentators were distracted with other things to describe, so they just kept right on going. My feeling is that Fulton Lewis Jr. knew what he was doing. Both he and Simmons were told at about the same time to stop the broadcasts and Simmons complied. It took a second message to stop Lewis.

Like Cronkite I discussed Jeannette Rankin's efforts to be recognized and also played the same segments of Fulton Lewis Jr's commentary about her efforts. Unlike Cronkite I discussed the fact that although this vote against entry into WW II made her unpopular, I not only mentioned that she had ALSO cast a vote against entry into WW I, but also mentioned that there is a statue in her honor in the Capitol building. Like Cronkite I discussed Fulton Lewis Jr's flaunting of the rules against broadcasting the debate, but unlike Cronkite I also discussed the role that CBS played in also broadcasting the debate. Unfortunately a last minute decision on the part of CBS to charge C-SPAN SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS A MINUTE for using the voices of any of their correspondents forced us to remove the voices of their reporters. Otherwise I would have been able to play not only the segments when Lewis discussed being forced to stop the broadcast, I would have also aired Park Simmons' reactions over at CBS.

NPR's web site discusses Cronkite's report as an exclusive. Well, maybe it is this year, but I scooped him by TEN YEARS, and my report was more complete and more accurate. I don't know how they missed the CBS part of the story. CBS has always had their recording of this broadcast in their archive. Part of the CBS broadcast of the debate was included on an LP that was sold at the Pearl Harbor Memorial for many, many years. And on Monday DEC 9, 1991 I walked over to both the Library of Congress and the National Archives and gave them tapes of both broadcasts.

The NPR web site mentions that the segment was produced by John McDonough. John is an old friend of mine, and is the one who did all of the NPR reports with Bob Trout. The web site mentions that John found the Mutual recording behind some shelves at WGN. And yes, about 30 years ago John brought the discs over to my archive studio at Northwestern where we dubbed them off before he slipped them back behind the WGN shelves. But this was not my only source for the Mutual broadcast because I had also found a set of Wilcox-Gay Recordio discs of a home recording of most of the Mutual debate at a garage sale in Evanston. Other than the Hawaiian LP, my source for the CBS broadcast were the discs that WCAU gave to Temple University in 1967. So I had two sources for each network, although one for each would be incomplete. Much to my amazement, neither the Library of Congress nor the National Archives had either. And for some reason the Museum of Television and Radio has never thought it important enough to ask CBS for their recording. I doubt that anybody at either the Museum or CBS knows that this debate broadcast exists over at CBS!

EVEN WALTER CRONKITE DOESN'T KNOW THAT CBS HAS THE RECORDING. HE DOESN'T EVEN KNOW THAT CBS BROADCAST THE DEBATE. (although I have a feeling that he will know about this by the time you read this, and BOY will he be pissed off!) My C-SPAN broadcast didn't go unnoticed. It was rebroadcast 4 or 5 times that weekend, and since my part was three hours in length it sometimes seemed like I was on all weekend. Over the years I've had many people mention that they saw the broadcast. It even was reviewed in The Wall Street Journal!! Makes you wonder how they all could have missed knowing any of this.

When I got the WCAU recordings I heard that somebody there mentioned that all CBS stations had been asked by the network to destroy any recordings they had of the debate but that WCAU refused. So when John came up with the WGN discs from BEHIND SOME SHELVES in the library, that really set off flares in my mind. Edward R. Murrow was in Washington that day--why was Park Simmons (who he???) used to report this important broadcast? And why didn't Murrow and Friendly use any of the debate in "I Can Hear It Now" when I KNOW that the recording has always been there at CBS News. I've seen it. Was it really being suppressed? The debate broadcast was reported about in the newspapers at the time. It's amazing how forgotten a story this is. It was almost completely unknown when I did the C-SPAN broadcast ten years ago--and it got forgotten again in the past ten years!

Michael Biel

Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2007 22:04:52 -0500
Subject: Declaration of War broadcasts from all networks exist

does FDR's declaration of War speech on 12-8-41 exist from NBC, or CBS in collectors hands? I know Mutual does.

As we discussed on the air last night, I have the NBC as well as having, of course. both the CBS and Mutual broadcasts. Some of you know that I did a 3 1/2 hour broadcast on C-SPAN on the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor in 1991 playing the speech and the debate in the House that followed on both Mutual and CBS. NBC went to the National Anthem and then to studio commentators. (Some of you might also remember that Walter Cronkite was embarrassed on the 60th anniversary in 2001 when he did a broadcast on NPR's All Things Considered and opined incorrectly that his future network, CBS, had not broadcast the debate, only Mutual did. NPR had to issue a correction, but did not mention that I had scooped them by ten years.)

What is most exciting is that last week I received an e-mail from the nephew of Park Simmons, who was the reporter for CBS who kept the broadcast going during the House debate. It had been a long-standing family story, and he and his family is delighted that it was known by others. They had thought that nobody seemed to know about it. My research had shown that Simmons was not accredited to either the House or Senate press galleries, and that possibly he had continued the broadcast because he had not known the rules that only Joint Sessions could be broadcast. Fulton Lewis, Jr. over on Mutual, had specifically stated that he was defying the rule, until an allegedly armed guard made him stop. Simmons stopped the broadcast the first time he was asked. His nephew states that Simmons KNEW what he was doing. He tried to stay out of sight, and he spoke very little in order not to call attention to what he was doing. That's why we have more audio from the floor of the debate from CBS than Mutual while they were both on, because Lewis could not shut up! The reason Simmons was doing the broadcast was because he was a White House correspondent. The family has an autographed picture of FDR dedicated to "My friend Park Simmons." Simmons is not well known because he had a debilitating illness which cut his career short. He was 23 at the time of the broadcast, and while he lived a long life, he was out of broadcasting by the mid-1940s. The family would love to have any other recordings of him.

Michael Biel

Eric Cooper

Date: Tue, 11 DEC 2001 14:56:36 -0500
From: "Eric Cooper"
Subject: re: Pearl Harbor, Michael Biel, Earl Godwin

My compliments to Michael Biel for his usual thorough coverage of one of his (and my) favorite subjects. Also my apologies for using the term "illegal". The reason that I put it in quotes was because I meant that it was illegal in terms of House rules and I should have so stated. It is not surprising to me that no one now would know what was in CBS' or and other station's or network's archives. So much time has passed and CBS has had several management changes. Still it was interesting to hear that CBS ordered the recording destroyed. I have your C-SPAN program on tape and I play it every December 7th.

Among the NBC Memovox recordings of December 8th, is the beginning of a commentary by Earl Godwin at approximately 1:41pm Eastern time 12/8/41 (I think it was on Red), who begins ranting against Jeanette Rankin, saying "The fact that Jeanette Rankin, who would just as soon see the Japanese sweep over the country and kill everyone on the street..." . He was cut off at that point, with the network switching back to the House, ostensibly for a news bulletin concerning the vote on the war resolution which had just been completed. I wonder if cutting him off was a coincidence or did he go too far, in the network's eyes?

Eric Cooper

Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 08:19:43 -0700
From: "Eric J. Cooper"
Subject: CBS Pearl Harbor/Philharmonic Bulletin

Actually the person to blame for initiating the false idea of CBS' interrupting the philharmonic broadcast, was none other than Edward R. Murrow on his own "I Can Hear It Now" album--the 78 rpm version--back in 1948. He mentions on the album that the Philharmonic was tuning up for their own broadcast and then includes the sound effect of the orchestra tuning up which is interrupted (on the record) by the John Daly bulletin. I don't think he ever meant to imply that the orchestra was actually broadcasting at that moment. He and Fred Friendly were just using it as an interesting effect. But to the uninitiated (such as myself, many years ago, when I first heard it) it does give the impression that the Philharmonic Broadcast was the one interrupted. You have to remember that most radio people who put together documentaries in later years were NOT scholars of OTR such as Elizabeth McLeod and Michael Biel. They were just trying to make it sound good.

Eric Cooper

Chris Chandler

Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 11:13:58 -0500
From: "Chris Chandler"
Subject: CBS Pearl Harbor

...I listened this afternoon to my copy of the CBS "World Today" newscast that went out over the network as the attack on Pearl Harbor was still underway....(snip, snip)...are there any transcriptions of this broadcast from other sources in circulation, and if so what are those other sources?...

The 2:30 PM broadcast you're asking about, David, exists in at least two, arguably three distinctly different forms---none of them the same, none of them complete. The first few minutes (Albert Warner, Bob Trout, etc) and the last couple minutes (the Manila remote, "we'll interrupt the Philharmonic broadcast if necessary, yadda yadda") are apparently intact and authentic...the intervening moments are a big question mark, and here's why:

Frustratingly...the CBS Pearl Harbor material, at least the bit that's in general circulation, is a big ol' mess--confusing, poorly preserved and documented, and perhaps even doctored.

Through careful listening and a bit of research, It is possible to date some of the biggest extant chunks of CBS material in this way: about 15-20 minutes of the half-hour roundup at 2:30 PM....about 15 minutes at 5:15 PM (Manila remote, NY program announcements) excellent 20-minute roundup dating around 6:30 (John Daly, Bob Trout, Albert Warner, Bill Henry)...and a reading of newspaper editorials followed by a Bill Shirer analysis and failed switches to Honolulu and Manila, about 11:30 PM.

Trouble is, none of these broadcasts are complete...ALL of them feature elements which are obviously out of order, segments plopped on top of segments--repeated numerous times, sometimes in the middle of other segments, etc. The simple explanation here is that whoever preserved this material simply dubbed the transcription discs out of order....which is fine, except that's not the whole story. It seems clear that somebody, somewhere has gone to some lengths to tamper with these broadcasts before putting them into circulation. A dramatic John Daly announcement ("we've been on the phone with our Honolulu affiliate, KGMB....attacking planes number between 50 and 100"...etc) is dropped into several different segments claiming to be from different times of the day; it's even dropped into one version of the "authentic" original 2:30 PM broadcast ... though the announcement more likely dates to the second wave of bombers over Hawaii, around 6:30 PM.

It would, as David says, be very interesting to find out where this material originated, and who got their paws on it before it made its way into the public in its present form. (And BTW, anybody who has any more of this stuff, let me know! I'd be interested in hearing it!) Meantime, just be aware that what you're hearing from this historic day is not necessarily what it purports to be.

(It should also be said that the very naughty Ed Murrow/Fred Friendly I CAN HEAR IT NOW Pearl Harbor which the duo, along with accomplice John Daly, not only re-created but apparently INVENTED a bulletin which never aired...has not helped matters any. You will never convince me that they shouldn't have known better. )


Jim Widner

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 10:09:10 -0500
From: Jim Widner
Subject: John Daly Pearl Harbor broadcast

I don't know precisely who put the doctored CBS Pearl Harbor recordings into circulation, but they've been floating around since the 1970s, and

If you are referring to the portion where Daly says he is interrupting the Philharmonic, Bob Trout already admitted that it was done by the Friendly/Murrow production. He indicated that the Daly portion came from his interrupting to announce the death of FDR. Trout refers to the Friendly editing as "Friendly-esque enhancement." Trout then goes on to play how it actually happened as part of the World Today. Less than two minutes before air time (2:30 PM New York Time), Trout hears activity in the newsroom (though he was in England, he was patched into New York) about "war?" We then hear the actually announcement that Daly made including the switch to Albert Warner reading the president's brief statement. We also hear Ford Wilkins being cut off due (according to government security shut down per Trout). At 4:00 PM we hear Warren Thurston from Honolulu via NBC over a telephone line, which as most know was cut off by an operator.

Jim Widner

Date: Wed, 2 Jun 2004 19:17:52 -0400
From: Jim Widner
Subject: D-day news recreation

Starting this Sunday for 33 hours into Monday, XM Radio's channel 4 (the 40's channel) will broadcast, in real time, a re-creation of the news coverage of the invasion of Normandy, beginning with the first bulletin at 2:45AM.

Keep in mind that this bulletin was a repeat of the earlier bulletins. The first bulletins over CBS and NBC began soon after midnight Eastern War Time. The AP released a bulletin reporting that a German news agency (TransOcean) was reporting an invasion." But the networks were a bit skittish about coming on the air after the false alarm from June 3rd.

NBC came on the air around 12:41 AM interrupting a music program. CBS waited until another confirmation of the report came in from the International News Service and came on the air at about 12:48 AM.

I am not sure what that bulletin is that appears on most tapes and CDs in circulation. I believe it is a repeat because it is always claimed to be from between 2:00 and 2:45. If it actually is the first bulletin, then it is timed incorrectly. But I believe that the two networks did not begin their historic recording for archival purposes until after the first bulletins had been broadcast.

Jim Widner

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