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The First World War, "The Great War", was sold to the American People as "The War to End All Wars". It did not. In fact, many historians theorize that the Second World War was an inevitable continuation of the Great War. WWI introduced the horrors of industrialized warfare to mankind, and by the end of the later conflict, mankind was on the verge of developing technologies capable of ending all life on the planet.
As horrific as the conflict was, for the United States WWII can be seen as a "good war". The loss of life for both combatants and civilians is beyond tragic, and the war brought further ruin to the economies of most of the nations involved in the conflict on both the victorious and vanquished sides. The notable exception is the United States.
When the War began in Europe, America had nearly recovered from the Great Depression and just supplying arms to the European combatants further boosted the economy. Manufacturing and shipping War Materiel for American Boys in the fight became an unstoppable economic juggernaut.
The United States' success in the War owes a great debt to the Entertainment Industry. Propaganda was important to all the belligerent nations in the conflict, and although history paints the Propaganda efforts of the Nazis as particularly atrocious, the simple fact is that the free-enterprise system of Hollywood created more effective propaganda in greater amounts than the state-directed efforts of the Fascists.
During the Great Depression, commercial radio matured from an entertainment curiosity to an important part of almost every household. Because of the Networks, everyone from Bangor, Maine, to San Diego, California, from Miami to Seattle, was hearing the same news at about the same time. If the War helped the unite America, radio became the glue that held it together.
The War was everywhere on the Radio. The news broadcasts kept the Nation informed about what was going on overseas, and almost every entertainer in Hollywood pitched War Bonds at one time or another to help pay for the War. The romantic male character in many Soap Operas would answer the call to serve, resulting in various degrees of tragedy, depending on the Soap in question. Comics in situation comedies learned important lessons about rationing which reinforced the discussions heard on panel programs. Comics hosting Variety Programs took their shows directly to the troops with Camp Shows, which may have been a technical and logistical challenge but never harmed a show's ratings.
The Radio Industry fulfilled its obligation to serve the public interest during the War, and existing broadcasts from the time, including the rare episodes included in this collection, are historical artifacts which should not only be studied and preserved but enjoyed for their intrinsic entertainment value.
- America United, February 11, 1945, NBC, "Paying for the War". The program opens with an address from Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau where the Secretary discusses the huge financial cost of the War as the end is in sight and praises the accomplishment of the Treasury Bond Drives. The America United Board discuss his comments.
- American Women, February 4, 1943, CBS, Chicago origin, sponsored by Wrigley's Spearmint Gum. The Chicago Company presents a salute to the feminine half of America and the contributions of women to the War Effort and the Country's well-being. In this edition, Ken and Connie promise to marry when he gets back from the War, but he sends her a "Dear Jane" letter. Later, she hears that Ken is in an Army Hospital and she feels she must go see him.
- The Army Hour, March 26, 1944, NBC. A weekly War Review from the War Department featuring the voices of American Soldiers around the world.
- The Ben Bernie War Workers Program, Summer 1942, CBS, Sponsored by Wrigley's Spearmint Gum. "The Old Maestro", Ben Bernie was one of the first "Stars" of the music industry. His band was featured on one of NBC's first remote broadcasts. He performed this program for the folks fighting the War on the Home Front, one of his last. Bernie will pass away at the age of 52 in October 1943.
- Beyond Victory, World Wide Broadcasting of Boston Syndication. The program discusses the morality of prosecuting the War against Fascism as well as the possibilities available to the wide world once Pease is achieved.
- Blind Date, 1945, ABC. Arlene Francis hosts a fun program where six G.I.s on furlough in New York City compete to go on a date with one of three pretty girls to the Stork Club. The soldiers and the girls cannot see each other but talk over the phone. We get to hear both sides of the conversation.
- Bundles for Britain, 1940, Bundles for Britain Committee Syndication. The British War Relief Society was an American effort to send non-military aid to the people of England. Bundles for Britain began as a knitting circle project in New York which quickly expanded. By spring 1941, they had shipped 40,000 sleeveless sweaters, 10,000 sweaters with sleeves, 30,000 scarves, 18,000 pairs of seaboot stockings, 50,000 pairs of socks, and 8,000 caps.
- D-Day Plus Two, June 8, 1944, various sources. One of the great ironies of History is that on the eve of the Allied Invasion of Europe over the Beaches of Normandy, General Eisenhower had more power at his command than, perhaps, any single person at any time in history, but once the order to "Go" had been given, all he could do is wait for the results like everyone else in the World. By the end of June 6, 1944, the Allies had not achieved all of their planned objectives. In fact, the outcome was still far from certain by D-Day+2, June 8, but by this time correspondents were beginning to get reports to the folks back home about what was going on in France.
- D-Day + 20, June 6, 1964, Syndicated(?). This audio documentary uses historic recordings in a summary of the War leading up to Operation Overlord and the D-Day Invasion.
- Deeds Without Words, 1944, National Maritime Commission Syndication. This episode dramatizes the story of Seaman Victor Haggert, who joined the British Merchant Marine by lying about his age when he was 14. Victor had two ships torpedoed from under him on a single voyage.
- I Am an American, May 18, 1941, Mutual, sustaining, "Nightmare at Noon". Actor Henry Hull narrates this cautionary tale which imagines conditions in an American City exposed to the terrors of the Nazi Invasion of Normandy.
- KGU Honolulu Reports the Pearl Harbor Attack, December 7, 1941. The station began broadcasting in 1922, and its signal was used as a homing beacon by the early Pan Am Clipper flights. On the morning of December 7, 1941, pilots of the Japanese Navy used the station's signal to home in on Pearl Harbor. This report is sent from KGU to NBC in New York over the telephone and is interrupted by an operator who still has not understood the importance of the news.
- Lowell Thomas Sunoco News, December 8, 1941, Blue Network. Mr. Thomas reports what is known (and thought to be known) on the day after the Day of Infamy, and he reminds listeners that some reports must be withheld to prevent giving information to the enemy.
- NBC War Bond Parade, March 7, 1944, NBC. Just a few weeks after the Fourth War Loan Drive came to a close, several of NBC's Stars turned out to sell even more bonds in this hour-long special broadcast.
- NBC We Will Never Die Pageant, July 21, 1944, NBC, broadcast Live from the Hollywood Bowl. The pageant, which was designed to raise American awareness of the atrocities European Jews were facing at the hands of the Nazis. Was originally performed at Madison Square Garden on March 9, 1943, before 40,000 spectators. The program was written by Ben Hecht, produced by Billy Rose and Ernst Lubitsch, music composed by Kurt Weill, and staged by Moss Hart. The program was narrated and performed by an All-Star collection of Jewish and Gentile actors, including Edward G. Robinson, Paul Muni, Sylvia Sidney, John Garfield, Ralph Bellamy, Frank Sinatra, Burgess Meredith, and hundreds more.
- Our Secret Weapon, August 30, 1942, sustained syndication. Rex Stout, representing The Writer's War Board and Freedom House, exposes lies broadcast by the Axis Propaganda Broadcasts. Excellent if obvious propaganda broadcast.
- President Roosevelt Addresses Congress, December 8, 1941. This is FDR's famous "Infamy Speech" delivered to a joint session of Congress on the day following the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Secretary of State Cordell Hull had advised the President to take the time to detail the full scope of Japanese/American relations and the lengthy, although unsuccessful process of negotiations to reach a peaceful resolution. Roosevelt chose to keep the speech brief (just over seven minutes) for increased dramatic effect. Within an hour of the Speech, Congress delivered a Declaration of War.
- State of the Union Address, January 7, 1942. Just one month after he stood in the same Chamber to deliver the Infamy Speech, FDR performed his Constitutional duty of reporting on the State of the Union.
- The Passing Parade, John Nesbitt shares stories related to the War.
- The Rita Murray Show, January 20, 1942, KNX Los Angeles. Speaking under the banner of Breakfast Club Coffee, Ms. Murray calls on all of us to show discipline to support the War Effort and pull together for ultimate Victory, as well as tips to support our soldiers.
- Robert St. John and the News of the World, June 20, 1945, NBC, Mr. St. John reports of Victory on the Island of Okinawa.
- Soldiers in Greasepaint, November 25, 1943, NBC. A Thanksgiving Day salute to the men and women who made the USO Camp Shows possible. The program features Al Jolson, Andy Devine, Anna Lee, Bob Hope, Carole Landis, Fay McKenzie, Frances Langford, Fredric March (broadcasting from Cairo), Jack Benny, Jackie Heller (broadcasting from Guadalcanal), Jascha Heifetz (broadcasting from Panama), Jerry Colonna, Jim Burke, Jinx Falkenburg, John Garfield, Judith Anderson, Kay Francis, Martha Raye, Merle Oberon, and Mitzi Mayfair. Produced for domestic consumption, the program was partially intended to let the folks back home know what the USO was doing, the soldiers in the field were already very aware and appreciative.
- Special Mileage Rationing Program, December 1, 1942, NBC Syndication for the Office of War Information. NBC Stars Jack Benny, George Burns, Gracie Allen, and Dinah Shore come together to inform the public on the importance of using carpools to save resources for the War Effort. Interestingly, the resource most in need of conservation is the rubber for tires rather than gasoline (gasoline rationing would also be required). It should be noted that Fibber McGee and Molly were making this same plea as part of their regular broadcast.
- Let's Talk Turkey To Japan, November 23, 1944, NBC. A Thanksgiving Day plug for the 6th War Loan Drive. This is a partial broadcast, featuring Rudy Vallee and George Mardikian speaking from Omar Khayyam's Restaurant in San Francisco. Armenian immigrant Mardikian not only founded Omar Khayyam's, but he had also been appointed as a food consultant to the Quartermaster General of the US Army and later would donate his services to cater the United Nations Conference in San Francisco, 1945.
- The Man Behind the Gun, January 29, 1944, CBS, "Something for the Girls". A surprise, "Tonight, the Man Behind the Gun, is a Woman!" A compelling drama about a combat nurse in Europe and a call for the girls to serve.
- The Zero Hour (ゼロ・アワ),1944, 1945, NHK (Radio Tokyo). English language broadcasts from the Empire of Japan including news and music, supposedly directed at Allied servicemen. Since the news was told from a Japanese perspective, it was thought to have a demoralizing effect on American soldiers and sailors. It seems to have failed in that mission since most American listeners enjoyed the music but laughed at the news reports. The broadcasts feature disk jockey Iva Toguri D'Aquino, an American citizen and daughter of Japanese immigrants interred in a camp in Arizona. Iva was in Tokyo prior to December 7 to attend to a sick aunt. Unable to return to America, she took a job as a typist at the NHK studios and soon asked to broadcast. After the War, the Army released her for lack of evidence, but when she returned to America, Walter Winchell led a campaign which resulted in her conviction for Treason. Ms. Toguri received a Presidential Pardon from Gerald Ford in 1977.
- This Is Our Enemy, Mutual, 1942-43, presented by "The United States Government". A widowed father in an occupied village in France receives an offer from the Nazi's to allow his sickly son a "holiday" on a German far where he will be well fed. Unfortunately, when he returns, he has been thoroughly indoctrinated as a Black Shirt Hitler Youth.
- To Fly with a Fighting Navy, Navy Recruiting Syndication, 1942. The whole town seems to be getting behind Tommy Martin as he enters Navy PreFlight School, including his "best girl" who promises not to sit under any "strange apple trees" while he's gone.
- The Treasury Hour, October 21, 1941, Blue Network. A Navy Day Salute which includes a remote broadcast from London featuring Robert Montgomery and Noel Coward. The remote is followed Navy tunes, "A Navy Ballad" by Herman Wouk, and Frank Lovejoy reads "The Rhyme of the BB 66".
- Hail and Farewell to the U.S.O. Camp Shows, January 10, 1948, NBC. Before America officially entered the War, President Roosevelt asked the leaders of the Salvation Army, Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), National Catholic Community Service, National Travelers Aid Association and the National Jewish Welfare Board to form an organization "to handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces." The result was the United Services Organizations or USO. They provided sports equipment, phonographs, and endless free coffee and donuts, but the organization's biggest impression came from Hollywood, where the stars were anxious to demonstrate their patriotism and contribute to the War Effort. Show people of every level volunteered to perform at "camp shows", sometimes at State-side training centers, often just a few miles (sometimes a few yards) from the front lines. With the coming of Victory, and with most of the boys finally home by the end of 1947, the USO decided to retire the Camp Shows, and the occasion inspired this All-Star broadcast which features Douglas Fairbanks (host), Marlene Dietrich, Audie Murphy, Danny Thomas, Jack Benny, Dinah Shore, Bob Hope, Frances Langford, Sara Berner, Herb Vigran, Lou Krugman, and Tony Romano. Although the Camp Shows were at an end, just two years later, almost before American boots set down on the Korean peninsula, camp shows were being arranged for the new conflict.
- VE Day Special, May 8, 1945, AFRS. Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, The Ken Darby Singers, Frances Langford, Dinah Shore, Ginny Simms, Johnny Mercer, Judy Garland, Loretta Young, Charles Boyer, Lin Yutang, Herbert Marshall, Bishop Fulton Sheen, and announcer Elliott Lewis gather in the Hollywood Studios of the Armed Forces Radio Services at the news of the German Surrender in Europe.
- VE Plus 350, April 23, 1946, NBC for the United Jewish Appeal. A call for a worldwide program for the resettlement and relief of the 1.4 million Jewish survivors of Hitlerism.
- The Victory Front, October 26, 1942, CBS, "The Nature of the Enemy". Presented by the Office of War Information, the cast of Life Can Be Beautiful presents a tale of a Dutch refugee girl comes into the bookshop. The girl is amazed that Papa David is brave enough to sell Bibles and tells how Hitler's troops react to those who do not live up to the standards of the Master Race.
- Victory Polka, October 10, 1942, WLW Cincinnati. Mary, Jean, and Betty bring their version of the Andrews Sisters hit to the studio.
- Elmer Davis Weekly War Review, May 14 and May 21, 1943. CBS for the Office of War Information. In these reports, Mr. Davis summarizes the Victory in Africa, action at Attu Island, fighting in Russia, the death of Admiral Yamamoto, and other events but predicts that "the War will not be over by Christmas".
- Wartime Public Service Announcements. These announcements were produced by several different agencies, including the OWI, the War Department, the Treasury Department, and others. They inform the public of way they can help ensure Total Victory by supporting rationing and being careful who they talk to about their War Industry jobs.
- We Who Fight, AFRS. Mostly servicemen telling "War Stories" for their fellow servicemen, the show also featured popular entertainers like Connie Boswell.
- WEEI Job Center of the Air, January 11, 1948. A public service program from WEEI Boston featuring job opportunities for Veterans in New England. The program features a panel discussion about issues faced by job seekers in the post-War period.
- WGN Hallicrafters Hour, April 2, 1945, WGN Chicago. A salute to the amateur radio operators (Hams) and the products of the Hallicrafter company which helped to win the War. William J. Halligan began manufacturing and selling radio equipment to amateur enthusiasts in 1932. During the War, the company produced several components which were vital to Allied success in battle.
- What Are We Fighting For? April 9, 1942, CBS. Part of a series of talks given at military posts across the country. CBS correspondent Leigh White speaks at Ft. Meade, Maryland, on his experiences in Europe and "What Pearl Harbor Means to Me".
- Young America Wants to Help, April 27, 1941, Mutual Network. This revue is a demonstration of support for the British people. Helen Hayes, Judy Garland, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, Ezra Stone, and Gertrude Lawrence are all featured on the broadcast. The Royal Family is heard in response.
- Your Son at War, 1945, WLW Cincinnati. Remote broadcasts from several stations and ships around the World of Ohio lads who have answered the call to service.
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