NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first great communicator, the first president to seize the intimacy of radio to talk to Americans one to one.
WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot With The Story
(Download the full interview HERE)
His most famous address came seventy years ago today — one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor — and it went out on this very radio station.
“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy. The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan,” Roosevelt told a joint session of Congress.
“The man was made for radio. He had this wonderful voice,” FDR historian and Kean University professor Terry Golway told WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot. “He was able to communicate a warmth that no one had ever heard before.”
But for this address, it was a cold reality that FDR needed to convey.
“No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory,” FDR continued.
“There were no spin doctors back then. There were no professional coaches. What you heard was what you got,” said Golway, author of “Together We Cannot Fail: FDR and the American Presidency in Years of Crisis.”
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“With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God,” said Roosevelt.
Golway says the power FDR derived from radio would be lost on television.
“He looks very wooden. So, I think if you were to see one of Roosevelt’s fireside chats, you might very well wonder ‘Well, where’s the magic?’ The magic was in that box,” said Golway.
As for today’s President, Golway says Barack Obama is gifted, but timid.
“I think too careful, and I think that has inhibited his style, as opposed to John Kennedy and as opposed to Ronald Reagan,” said Golway.
But on this date, December 8, 2011, we remember the communicator who stands the test of time.
“There’s no reason to think that the memory of Franklin Roosevelt and his leadership will have faded seventy years from now,” said Golway.
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