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World War II on the Radio

Radio as a Weapon

The most significant event of the last century was the global conflict referred to as the Second World War. Nearly every nation on Earth participated in or was affected by WWII. Although the Mass Media of the time seems primitive by the modern standards of the Internet and 24-hour Cable News Coverage, old time WWII radio shows brought the war home to the American people in a way that had never been imagined before this time.

Modern Cable TV coverage of significant events is notable for the saturation of coverage as events unfold. This was true with early Radio coverage. To experience coverage of significant battles and events of WWII listen to:

The News and Rumors of War

Radio HamsThe rise of the Nazi Party in Germany was followed by the American Press and those with an interest in European Affairs. Some American hobbyists followed reports from Germany and Europe by "Long Distance Listening (DXing)" over their shortwave radio receivers, but most information came from print and radio journalists.

Throughout the 1930s, in spite of the Great Depression, electricity, and with it radio, was coming into most American homes. By 1939 a majority of housewives considered the radio to be more indispensable to their homes than the clothes iron or the refrigerator. Although most radio listening was music and entertainment in the form of comedies and dramas, the various radio networks developed news departments. These began to rival print media, if not in depth of coverage, certainly in immediacy.

CBS sent Edward R. Murrow to London to head their European Operations. His initial job description did not include "On Air" time; his job was to persuade European figures to broadcast over CBS in competition with NBC. The Anschluss, the Nazi Annexation of Austria, occurred while Murrow was in Poland arranging the broadcast of Polish Children's Choirs. Murrow immediately sent William Shirer to London to broadcast an uncensored report.

The CBS home office in New York called for a "News Roundup" special to be put together in reaction to the Anschluss. The program was broadcast on March 13, 1938, and became the basis of the CBS World News Roundup, which still broadcasts on CBS Radio.

Pearl Harbor AttackWorld War II began on Sept 1, 1939, when Nazi forces invaded Poland. The entire broadcast day of CBS affiliate WJSV, Washington DC, on that date has been preserved, including coverage of the invasion. Please also see Blitzkrieg Collection (Invasion of Poland).

CBS had sent their leading news analyst to Europe to report on WWII events, and persuaded the likable Elmer Davis to fill the spot beginning in August 1939. Davis became a trusted and comforting voice during the second world war, and in 1941 he was appointed by President Roosevelt to head the Office of War Information.

As tensions increased in Europe, American Radio Journalists continued to cover the events. During the summer of 1940 many expected the Germans to attempt an invasion of the British Isles, and CBS had Larry LeSueur in place to report on the Battle of Britain.

While democracy was endangered in Europe, there were still many voices in the US that called for America to stay out of World War II. At the same time, other Americans called for intervention in order to keep the conflict from reaching our shores. This was partially addressed in the intellectual discussion program on NBC, Speaking of Liberty (1941), in the months prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Arial Dogfight British and NaziAmerica was finally drawn into the second world war when the Navy Base at Pearl Harbor was attacked. The attack is detailed in the Complete Broadcast of Dec 7, 1941. Although not as complete as cable news coverage would be today, the collection includes programming and reports from NBC Red, Blue, and the CBS Network. The first notice of the attack came at 2:26pm, Eastern Time, over the Mutual network, interrupting a football game 63 minutes after the first bombs fell.

The press brought WWII back to the home front with WWII old time radio shows. The United Press Syndicated sponsored Soldiers of the Press (1942-45) detailing the adventures of correspondents on the front lines. The correspondent's job was to stay out of the way that the soldiers could do their job, and then send reports back to the States. But it was difficult to stay objective when the people around them, whom they had come to care about, were fighting and dying.

The G.I.s

Glen Miller

During World War II, America had ample reason to be proud of her fighting men and radio did all it could to show the folks back home the fine job they were doing.

Although they were not in uniform, the men and women of the Civilian Aircraft Warning Service during WWII were vital to the mission of the Army Air Forces 4th Fighter Command. Their story was told by NBC in Eyes Aloft (1942-43). NBC also carried a four-part report on the Navy fighting in five oceans called Battle Stations (1943). Thrilling tales of the Army Air Force were heard on The Fighting AAF (1945), produced by the Air Force and presented on ABC.

On weekday afternoons during 1943-45 CBS presented programs from the various Service Bands. It's Maritime (1944-45) featured tales of seagoing life along with Swing Music.Even more popular was Captain Glenn Miller and the Band of the AAF Training Command on I Sustain the Wings (1943-45).

True tales of WWII heroes in action were also popular WWII old Time radio shows. Wings to Victory (1940-45) gave us dramatized stories of our flying heroes over the Blue Network. Wounded heroes and the Gallant Doctors who worked to save them was the subject of The Doctor Fights (1945), featuring A-List Hollywood talent like Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Robert Montgomery and Franchot Tone.

The Man Behind The Gun (1942-44) featured highly dramatized stories of America's fighting men during the second world war. Brought to us by the Elgin Watch Company, few programs were able to portray the terror of combat contrasted with the numbing boredom that can accompany an overseas posting; perhaps most of all the WWII old time radio program brings home the comradeship that our fighting men have for one another.

Radio for the Troops, A Touch of Home

Battle StationsBy the end of the First World War the importance of recreation for the troops was becoming recognized. It has been pointed out that the soldier's life is 90% boredom interrupted by periods of sheer terror. If morale was allowed to slip there could be a fatal decline in combat efficiency. Experiments with radio for troop entertainment had been attempted in various overseas locations before the WWII with varying degrees of success. The most important improvement needed to be reliable and desirable content.

The various efforts came together during WWII and were expanded after May 26, 1942, when the War Department created the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS). The fragile disks and turntables that were being provided in "Buddy Kits" to units deploying overseas were replaced by radio receivers. Programs would be sent to overseas radio stations from the ARFS Hollywood studios. Sometimes shortwave transmission to the frontline stations was used when the program required immediacy, but the preferred method was by phonographic disk. Transcription to disk was a relatively expensive process, but it guaranteed quality and reliability that shortwave could not.

Command PerformanceCommand Performance (1942-49) was an early hit over AFRS during World War Two. Servicemen were encouraged to write to the show and request their favorite stars, and suggest performances they would like to hear (Ann Miller tap-dancing wearing Army boots?) As the show gained popularity producers worried over the cost of talent to fill the show. From the beginning Hollywood A-List performers such as Bob Hope, Dinah Shore, Fred Allen, Frances Langford, Spike Jones, Frank Sinatra, Burns and Allen, Vincent Price, Ginger Rogers, Gary Cooper, Tallulah Bankhead, Andrew Sisters, Bette Davis, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, and Margaret Whiting all appeared free of charge, allowing AFRS to produce extremely high quality shows for far less than expected. The free performances by celebrities became a tradition, and it has been pointed out on numerous occasions that no career was ever harmed by performing for the Troops for free. In 2009 the Military cable network, The Pentagon Channel", reprised Command Performance featuring currently popular acts.

Mail Call(1942-49) was another early AFRS WWII radio show. Premiering in Aug 1942, the show drew its title from the military practice of gathering the troops when mail was delivered to the unit. The show also used A-list talent (working for free) and took the form of a love letter from the celebrities to the troops.

GI Journal (1943-46) used the celebrities as the guest editors and staff for a weekly newspaper for the WWII troops. Comedy and Pin-up girl talent was featured with a healthy share of popular music.

GI Jill 1944Music was the emphasis of GI Jive, a disc jockey program for WWII soldiers. Several disc jockey's "spun hot wax" for the program, sometimes civilian celebrities while other times servicemen would man the microphone. One of the most popular DJs was "GI Jane", the on-air persona of Martha Wilkerson. GI Jane was thought to be an answer to the Tokyo Rose propaganda broadcasts. The plain fact was that the WWII American troops like Ms Wilkerson better.

The Jubilee Program (1942-53) was unique because it was directed towards African-American soldiers during World War Two. Modern collectors value the programs as some of the best War-time jazz performances. Music America Loves Best was produced and broadcast by NBC, then decommercialized and transcribed for AFRS. The program featured classical as well as popular music.

Everything for the Boys (1944-45) was dedicated to raising the morale of our fighting men and sponsored by Autolite. The show featured a play by Arch Oboler and included a call to a serviceman stationed overseas, sometimes allowing a family connection to be made over the radio.

Radio on the Homefront

Fibber McGee

Not everyone could go fight or be involved directly in Wolrd War related industries. Commercial radio was still a business. War related content found its way into regular programming. The day-time Soaps would often lose a character who had joined the military, or add one who had returned home to convalesce from battle injuries. The bad guys in Kiddie Shows and some detective dramas changed from gangsters and rustlers to Japs and Nazis, or at least worked for them.

One type of program that seemed to take WWII in stride was the Situation Comedy. The teenage girl in the family program would become a sucker for anyone in uniform, and the Smart-mouth kid suddenly knew enough Military and War jargon to open a new front in the backyard.

Marjorie from The Great Gildersleeve was constantly writing to WWII servicemen, or organizing dinners or shows for the troops. Early in the show's run, just before America entered the War, the Gildersleeve household organized Thanksgiving dinner for the Troops at the local Army post. Gildy was often involved in War bond drives and even helped to christen a Liberty Ship.

Fibber McGee and Mollybecame a darling of the Office of War Information. Finding spies was a favorite plot device on many programs, including Fibber and Amos 'n Andy. Fibber writer Don Quinn was well known for subtly incorporating the sponsors message into the fabric of the program, and this same talent was even better showcased in messages for the OWI. Fibber McGee and Molly was so good at getting OWI's message out that they were occasionally given exclusives"; the day following a program showcasing the need for Merchant Mariners was the single most successful recruiting day for Merchant Mariners.

Bob Hope with wife Dolores in USO tourWar time rationing was a common complaint on sitcoms, but Fibber managed to get the message across better than others by getting it beat into his own head. Several episodes dealt with gas rationing and meat rationing, with Fibber chagrined as he learns the necessity of the sacrifices. One of the most poignant of the lessons came on the Dec 1, 1942 episode. The nation is approaching its second Christmas of the War, and not only does Fibber get a lesson about gas rationing, but he gets it from a beloved member of the company, Mayor LaTrivia played by Gale Gordon, as both the character and the actor are leaving to join the Coast Guard.

No gathering of more than ten sets of civilian ears would have been complete without an appeal for War Bonds, and entertainment radio was no exception. Not only were the Treasury Department programs popular, but almost every show had a appeal in the closing dialog. Bob Hope even made Bye bye, and buy Bonds" a personal trademark.


Radio as a Weapon

All of the major combatant nations in the war recognized the power of radio to transmit propaganda, not only to the other side, but also to their own populations.

FDR WWII BroadcastPresident Franklin D. Roosevelt began his Fireside Chats (1936-45) during the Great Depression, and continued then through the War Years. The chats were thought to be a great comfort to the nation during dark and frightening times.

The series Speaking of Liberty (1941) was presented by NBC in the months prior to Pearl Harbor. The highly intellectual discussions featured some of the periods best minds discussing the importance of freedom and civil liberties, created by the Council for Democracy. The Institute for Democratic Education presented Lest We Forget (1943-48) dramatized morality tales that demonstrated not only the superiority of American ideals, but the dangers if they are lost.

Hitler and his misguided philosophy were confronted directly in Dear Adolph (1942) and You Can't Do Business with Hitler (1942). The first presented letters from Americans outlining their feelings towards the German regime, while the latter was based on the experiences of an American trade attaché who had worked at the American Embassy in Berlin before the Second World War.

The enemy tried to use propaganda old time radio to disrupt Allied morale using the radio. Charlie and His Orchestra played popular American Jazz tunes with the lyrics rewritten with a pro-Nazi message. The germans also used Axis Sally while the infamous "Tokyo Rose" was played by as many as a dozen different English speaking women for Japan. Tokyo Rose's mission was to make the GIs homesick by playing popular American Music and telling outlandish tales of girlfriends being unfaithful while their men were at war. The effectiveness of Tokyo Ros's efforts is in dispute, and tales of her supposed clairvoyance in speaking directly to individual units was largely a fabrication for the movies.

Paying for a Total War

WWII BomberA global war doesn't come cheap. World War II stimulated the economy, but this in turn had the danger of increasing inflation at a time when shortages could and did occur. Many of the Presiden Rosevelt's advisers advocated increased taxation and enforced saving programs that would raise the funds necessary and control inflation. Roosevelt wisely took the advice of his Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau Jr., and put a voluntary Loan program in place as War clouds loomed in the fall of 1940.

The War loans, funded by bonds sold to citizens, had several effects. First, they did raise the money needed to fight what would be a very expensive war. Next, that money was taken out of circulation, thereby controlling inflation. And finally it gave the general citizenry a direct feeling of contributing to the WWII effort.

Selling the bonds during WWII became part of a truly phenomenal public relations and advertising campaign. Kiosks manned by volunteers began to pop up where ever people would gather, such as shopping areas and theater lobbies. Celebrity and media support for the War Bond Drives almost became a competition to see who could do the most.

Popular singer Kate Smith, well known for her signature rendition of "God Bless America", held a 16 hour marathon broadcast on CBS which sold over $40 million in bonds. The sign-off of nearly every popular radio program had a pitch for WWII bonds.

The Treasury Department sponsored a number of popular old time radio programs which would remind listeners to buy bonds. Treasury Star Parade (1942-44) featured Hollywood Stars in short dramas, many of which would remind listeners to comply with rationing and take seriously the other home front sacrifices the second world war made necessary. Treasury Star Salute (1944-46) paid tribute to individuals and organizations that contributed to the American Way of life and the war effort with music and dramatic sketches. Music for Millions (1945) didn't seem to attract the A-list talent of some of the other shows, but featured songs made up just for the bond drive. Guest Star Radio (1947-66) ran after WWII, with an even greater selection of Stars, and promoted "Savings Bonds" rather than "Victory Bonds".

Enola GayEnd of the War Looms

President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away on April 12, 1945 leaving Harry S. Truman in the presidency during the second world war. By the end of the month Mussolini would be killed by Italian Partisans and Adolph Hitler would commit suicide.

On May 8, 1945 the Allied Powers accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

In early August under President Truman's orders, the United States Enola Gay dropped Atomic Weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and then Nagasaki. On August 15 Emperor Hirohito announced over the radio to the Japanese people that Japan would accept the terms that the Allies had set forth at the Potsdam Conference. The formal surrender took place on September 2 on board the USS Missouri.


Radio's Place After the War

Radio 1946It was a much different world than it had been at the beginning of WWII, and change was really just beginning.

The economy of Europe was in ruins. The Soviet Union was able to make a rapid and powerful recovery; soon they would be able to rival the US militarily and in a short time they would develop their own atomic weapons. Because the economy of continental Europe was interdependent between nations, when the German economy was aided by the Marshall Plan most of Europe recovered as well. Great Britain, one of the leading Allied Powers, had been to severely drained by World War II and continued to decline for decades.

The US economy had been stimulated by the War, and rode this wave for a number of decades. The post war years were a time of prosperity and baby boom. However there was a growing insecurity as the Soviets gained a degree of world dominance.

One World Flight (1947), a program by Norman Corwin, demonstrated how small the world had become as a result of the War. It also highlighted the need for a type of World Government to preclude any possibility of future war, especially as the World entered the Atomic Age.

In many ways post War America was better represented by a favorite Veteran, Sad Sack (1946). Sad Sack had been a pantomime cartoon character featured in the Army weekly newspaper Yank. Sad Sack was a lowly private who always wound up at the butt end of the absurdities of military life. He first appeared on the radio, played by Mel Blanc, on GI Journal. After WWII he returned to misadventures in his home town. The series was sponsored by Old Gold Cigarettes as a summer replacement for the Frank Sinatra Show.

In many ways radio matured as an technical and entertainment medium during the War. Although VE and VJ day came and went, unresolved tensions among the Allies remained, particularly between the Soviet Union and the Western Powers. Although not as universally acknowledged as the World War, the nascent Cold War soon became pervasive through out Radio in reflection of the Nation as a whole.Just as Bad Guys had gone from Gangsters and Rustlers early in WWII, the new boogie men became Reds and Communists. This was in no small degree a reflection of the destructive power released as the Atomic Age dawned. The Red Scare was another important influence on the entertainment industry, and many careers were hampered. Often as the result of unjustified accusations, see the actions of Sen Joseph McCarthy.

Joseph McCarthyTechnology had improved in answer to the needs of the Military, and these improvements naturally made their way into the civilian market. Radio broadcasting equipment became easier to operate, civilian receivers cheaper to manufacture, and the sound quality of transmissions improved. Advertisers recognized the improved entertainment value, and began to spend more of their advertising dollars. Unfortunately for Radio, the electronic and manufacturing advances also made possible the rise of Television. Despite the many advantages of the less expensive radio medium, advertisers were drawn by the flashy new kid on the block, and invested their advertising money there. Radio as the dominant entertainment medium was more a victim of post war prosperity than the superiority of TV.

Although old time radio was relegated to Little Brother" status by the rise of Television, the solid entertainment value of Programing from the Golden Years of Radio is still with us just as much as the many legacies of the Second World War.


Recommended World War II Collections:

WWII Compilations: WWII Complete Broadcast Days:
WWII Collection WWII Complete Broadcast Days
WWII Entertainment & Music WWII News
Jubilee America Looks Abroad
WWII Propaganda WWII War Bonds
Axis Sally Music for Millions

<< Click here to return to the full list of old time radio WWII series <<


WWII Quick Reference Guide

Show Title Dates Genre Premise
America Looks Abroad 1939- 1940 News Commentary/ Allied Propaganda Produced in co-operation with The Foreign Policy Association. Commentators analyze the situation in Europe, and to a lesser extent the Pacific, in the months prior to America's direct involvement in WWII. Reports emphasize American Diplomatic moves in the Pre-War months.
American in England 1942 Anglo American Propaganda Norman Corwin reports from England, whose entire citizenry is basically on the front lines of WWII. Combined Norman Corwin Writing, Edward R Murrow producing, and Benjiman Britten score
Any Bonds Today?   Home Front War Bond Drive

Entertaining fifteen-minute Treasury Dept spot featured a Patriotic Sketch and a Patriotic Song

Axis Sally 1942- 1945 German Propaganda Mildred Gillars lead an abused and disjointed life, eventually winding up in Germany and landing a job with German State Radio. Her reaction to Pearl Harbor nearly got her sent to a concentration camp. Instead she began began broadcasting different shows directed at the US Homefront and G.I.s., disrupting morale with lies developed by Nazi Intelligence Ms Gillars was convicted of a single count of Treason. After her release from prison she lived out most of her days in the Our Lady of Bethlehem Convent in Columbus Ohio
Band of the AAF Training Command 1944 Troop Morale Builder and Recruiting Glenn Miller Band in Uniform. In Dec, 1944, Captain Glenn Miller's single engine plane went missing over the English Channel. At the time he was arranging a Tour of Continental Europe to entertain the Troops.
Battle Stations 1943 Home front Morale Builder Report to people of the United States on the progress of its navy in the war being fought in five oceans. NBC Department of Special Event, in cooperation with the US Navy
Blitzkrieg 1940 News Reports New reports and speeches from various sources concerning Nazi occupation of Europe
CBS News Around the World (AM Edition) 1942 News Reports CBS Morning News Reportage
CBS World News Today 1942- 1945 News Reports CBS News Broadcasts from 1942- 1945
Ceiling Unlimited 1943- 1944 home front Morale Builder Orson Welles writing for Lockheed about aviation and the war
Charlie and his Orchestra (Nazi Propaganda)   Nazi Propaganda American Jazz tunes rewritten with Nazi Lyrics
Christmas At War   Collection The Holiday Season with the Nation At War
Churchill (Winston Churchill) Recordings   Historic Recordings Churchill was the British Prime Minister during the War. His speeches are credited with boosting the morale of the British People during the War's darkest hours, as well as that of people in all the free nations.
Command Performance 1942- 1949 American Troop Morale Raiser Hollywood Celebrities gather to answer requests sent into the show by GI's stationed overseas during WWII
Complete Broadcast 1939 (Nazi Invasion of Poland) 1939 Historic Recordings The opening of the War in Europe. The Nazi's invade Poland, to which Great Britain and France are forced to respond by declaring War on Germany
Complete Broadcast 1941 (Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor) "Day of Infamy 1941 Historic Recordings The "Day which will live in Infamy". The Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor drew the United States into the War, Germany declares War on the US in support of Japan
Complete Broadcast 1944 (D-Day Invasion of Normandy CBS) 1944 Historic Recordings Considered the turning point of War in Europe. The opening of a Second front had long been demanded by the USSR to take pressure off the Eastern Front. The D-Day invasion was the largest Amphibious Invasion ever attempted, and the results were far from assured.
Complete Broadcast 1944 (D-Day Invasion of Normandy NBC) 1944 Historic Recordings Considered the turning point of War in Europe. The opening of a Second front had long been demanded by the USSR to take pressure off the Eastern Front. The D-Day invasion was the largest Amphibious Invasion ever attempted, and the results were far from assured.
Dear Adolf 1942 Allied Propaganda Six letters from Americans expressing their opinions of Hitler and the Nazi Regime
Doctor Fights 1945 Stories of our Brave Fighting Men Exploits of Military Medical Men with an emphasis on the lives saved by the miracle drug penicillin
Elmer Davis and the News 1939- 1941 News Reports Long time Indiana Journalist appointed by Roosevelt to head the Office of War Information analyses events of the day though the early days of the War.
Everything for the Boys 1944 - 45 American Troop Morale Raiser Star Studded effort to raise the Morale of the troops featuring plays by Arch Oboler, sponsored by Autolite. After the play a Telephone conversation with GIs stationed overseas is featured, they get the chance to request sounds they miss, like an ice cream soda being made, and a maybe to talk to loved ones brought to the studio.
Eyes Aloft 1942- 1943 Home Front Efforts In Praise of the efforts put forth by the Civilian Aircraft Warning Service along the West coast.
FDR Fireside Chats & Speeches 1936- 1945 Historic Recordings FDR's speeches were broadcast to boost the morale of American at home during WWII
Fighting AAF 1945 Home front Propaganda From AAF Reports of the Technological Advances the Army Air Forces used in Victory in WWII and beyond, program claimed to be "an official military operation of the AAF." Produced by the AAF and played over ABC. Notable for early use of Wire recording in the field.
Frontline Theater 1943-
Home front Propaganda From AFRS Before AFRS could broadcast a program donated by the networks, the show had to be "decommercialized". Sometimes this meant changing the show title and cutting out the sponsor pitch.
Gabriel Heatter 1942- 1945 News Reports Heater's signature sign-on, "There's Good News Tonight" brought optimism to the nation in some of the War's darkest days.Paradoxically, the Nation's great comforter was almost crippled by personal insecurity,
GI Jive (with G.I. Jill)   Allied Propaganda and Troop Comfort AFRS Program featuring "Hot Wax" for the Troops. Several DJs are used, including "Pin-up" girls and GI Jane. GI Jane featured hot music and became an answer to Tokyo Rose
GI Journal 1943- 1946 American Troop Morale Raiser Celebrities put together a "Newspaper" for the AEF. Featuring Top Name Acts, great set up of Fibber McGee and Molly with Frank Sinatra as Editor. Great feature is a song composed by GIs overseas and sung by starlet at the studio in LA (Connie the "Coffee Girl" Haines)
Guest Star Radio 1947-1966 Home Front War Bond Drive Top Flight Celebs soliciting War Bonds with songs and sketches
Harry S Truman Speeches   Historic Recordings Truman took office when FDR passed away early in his 4th term as President, less than a month before VE day.
Hitler (Adolf) Recordings   Historic Recordings  
I Sustain the Wings 1943- 1945 Music for the Troops and the Folks back home. Capt Glenn Miller and the Band of the AAF Training Command doing there best with Swing Music to beat the Axis. CBS featured a Service Band program or Recruiting/info program each day during this time slot
Its Maritime 1944- 1945 Troop Morale and Recruiting vehicle Presenting Stories of America's Maritime tradition and great 40's popular music dedicated to Merchant Mariners. Featuring the Maritime Service Orchestra. Weekly on CBS, sustaining. Produced in cooperation with War Shipping Administration
Its that Man Again 1939- 1949 British Home Front Morale Builder ITMA referred originally to Hitler and his advances in Europe. Later the phrase referred to comedian Tommy Handley. The program was vital to helping keep up British Morale during the Wars darkest times. The show was noted for jokes based on the latest breaking War news.
Jubilee   Troop Morale Builder Unique in Broadcasting of the time, Jubilee was directed at the many black GIs serving their country.
Keep Em Rollin   American Home Front Morale Builder "Remember Pearl Harbor!" The program presents Patriotic music and interviews along with a play, all pointed towards reminding America of the need for the Nation to be united in the War Effort. Some of the talent was provided by the Hollywood Victory Committee. Program presented by the War Production Board
Lest We Forget 1943-1948 American Home Front Morality Tales Several series with the central theme of combating prejudice and reinforcing American Ideals and Morals. Presented by the Institute of Democratic Education
Mail Call   Troop Morale Builder A Radio "Fan Letter" from Movie and Radio Celebrities to our Troops presented by the Hollywood Victory Committee, transcribed in the AFRS studios in LA. GIs could write in to request their favorite celebrities and content of the show
Man Behind the Gun 1942-1944 Stories of our Brave Fighting Men Tales inspired by true stories from the front lines. The listener is placed in the boots of our fighting men, feels the boredom and the terror of war, and feels the sting when a buddy is lost. Sponsored by Elgin Watch Co., emphasis on Precision Time Keeping important to modern Warfare.
March of Time   News Reports Weekly program dramatizing the week's news events. When actual recordings were not available, actors would be called in to imitate the actual news-makers and World Leaders. A companion News Reel Series was played in movie houses, but because of high production costs they only appeared once a month or so.
Music America Loves Best 1944- 1948 MusicalTroop Morale Builder All types of 40's Music is featured, popular as well as classical. Broadcast every Sat evening over NBC Blue Network, and transcribed for AFRS. Although the program originated on Commercial radio, it was dedicated to the "men and women in the Armed Forces of the United Nations". The shows were decommercialized for AFRS broadcast so that the War Dept would not be seen as endorsing any product.
One World Flight 1947 POST WAR Propaganda Corwin flies around the world interviewing and recording, trying to make a case for a World Government in dangerous Atomic times. The One World Award was intended to foster the creation of a One World Government in order to prevent the possibility of War, especially as the world entered the Atomic Age
Over Here   Home Front War Bond Drive  
Pacific Story 1943-1947 See Atomic Radio Sheet With much of Europe in ruins during WWII, the nations of the Pacific would become more important to the US as trading and cultural partners. The series examines the culture, people, and history of the region.
Patriotic Collection   Various

OTRCat presents some of our favorite Patriotic Radio Episodes. Included are Historical Dramas, WWII episodes, AFRS Programming, Family Comedy, and Baseball Stories

Plays for Americans   Home front Propaganda Presented by Arch Oboler
Robert Arden News Commentary   News Reports Robert Arden, Foreign Correspondent, makes his comments on pre-War conditions and discusses Anti-Nazi agenda (KFWB, Los Angeles)
Sad Sack Jun-Sep 1946 Sit Com POST WAR The popular WWII cartoon comes to the radio sponsored by Old Gold Cigarettes, starring Herb Vigran and Jim Backus. The Sad Sack Cartoon was drawn in pantomine with no dialog, while the radio program had no pictures! Sad Sack originally came to radio on GI Journal, played by Mel Blanc
So Proudly We Hail 1947-1957 Army and Air Force Recruiting Drama Long running Drama Anthology using major stars and recorded before live studio audience
Soldiers of the Press 1942- 1945 Stories of our Brave Fighting Men Front line stories of War Correspondents, United Press Reporters get into the thick of battle and bring the story behind the headlines back to the folks back home
Sounds of War  

Historic recording/reenactment

The Major events and campaigns of WWII are presented using historic recordings and reenactments of important speeches.

Speaking of Liberty 1941 Intellectual Interview Program Presented by NBC Before the US entered the War. Discussions under the auspices of the Council for Democracy (Hosted by Rex Stout)
Summer of 1940 New 1940 News Reports CBS News reports PreWar Europe, during the period just previous to the US entry to the war (CBS News)
This is War 1942 Home Front Propaganda

The project was intended to inform the American People of the Reasons the US was fighting the War, the greatest talent in radio was called upon in support of the project. Norman Corwin directed the series and wrote 9 of the 13 episodes. The program was concurrently broadcast on the four major networks.

These Are Our Men 1944- 1945 Stories of our Brave Fighting Men Focus on American Leaders of the War. Sponsored by Parker Watch Company as part of the War Bond Drive. The company went out of business after the War.
Today in Europe 1939- 1940 News Reports CBS News reports PreWar Europe
Tokyo Rose (WWII Japanese Propaganda)   Japanese Propaganda NHK broadcast Popular American Music to attract GIs, then peppered the broadcast withtidbits designed to disrupt their morale and dedication to the Allied cause. GIs often tuned in the broadcast to "read between the lines" to get a feel for how the War was going. Iva Toguri D'Aquino, one of several "Tokyo Rose" broadcasters, was pardoned by Pres Ford in the 1970s
Treasury Salute 1944-1946 Home Front War Bond Drive Presented by the Treasury Department, program was based on a salute to heroic individuals, both military and civilians, as well as occupations and Military Units
Treasury Star Parade 1942- 1944 Home Front War Bond Drive Well written 15 minute dramas broadcast for the Treasury Department in support of the War Effort and the War Loan drive. Great Radio talent worked on the program in in front of and behind the mike, all donated to the War Effort
War Telescope 1943- 1944 News Reports Weekly reports from Elmer Peterson from the European Theater, presented over NBC. Elmer Peterson based his commentary on preWar experience in Europe as well as interaction with American and Allied soldiers of all ranks.
WEAF 12-Hour Broadcast, (Aug 10 1945 Atomic Bombing Nagasaki) 1945 News Reports Station WEAF began transcribing their broadcast under the assumption the atomic detonation on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 would be the final day of the war. The station recorded the entire Broadcast day in expectation of the Japanese surrender.
Wings to Victory 1940- 1943 American Homefront Morale Building Propaganda Dramatic presentations of American Fliers in the fight against the Axis
Words At War 1943- 1945   "Free words of Free Men", dramatizations of the best books and literature to come out of the War. Sponsored by the Johnson Wax Company, summer replacement for Fibber McGee and Molly.
World War II Collection   Compilation From the rise of the Nazis in 32 through the War to VJ Day and the beginnings of the Cold War. The Collection includes extensive News reports, AFRS Broadcasts, Homefront Entertainment shows, and War related PSAs
You Can't Do Business with Hitler 1942 American Propaganda The Nazi regime had declared a trade war on the US years before the bullets began to fly. Unfair trade practices are described in the book that inspired the series, written by Douglas Miller, former employee of the US Embassy in Berlin (Office For Emergency Management, Division Of Information, syndication.)
Your Hit Parade 1935 - 1959 Hit Music Weekly chronical of Hit music from the Tin Pan Alley era through the War Years until the beginning of the Rock and Roll Era

Full List of WWII Radio Recordings >>

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my father was in the radio armed forces in WW2, his name was Norman Dorb. His radio name was Don Norman, but I don't think he was using his radio name in the Army. Is there any way I can find any recording, pictures or anything about him from WW2 ?? We would so greatly appreciate it!!

Ellen Brummel

Just found out my grandfather was on a war bond radio commercial on March 9, 1045 regarding North Africa landings and the U.S. Coast Guard on Radio Station WNAC. I have the transcript. Is there anyway to get a recording of it? Thank you. FX Bergmeister

Francis Xavier Bergmeister

I would like to know if British singer Vera Lynn's "We'll Meet Again" was played on American radio during the war? Thank You

Paul Fuller

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