1958 – January 14, 1958, to be exact. What was going on in the world and what were people listening to, this day? You heard the news earlier; it came from this broadcast. This is the in-depth, along with the music that was considered mainstream of the day – Rock n’ Roll was relegated to that handful of radio stations, devoted to it. But it wasn’t a mainstay on network radio. No, rather it was about Perry Como and Margaret Whiting, and their latest records. It was also about that new comedian Mort Sahl and his observations of life around him – the grumbling desire to break out of conformity; it was around, it was there, and it was started to be noticed.
The in-depth part was about the Cold War; news of the crash of an Air Force jet carrying an Atomic Bomb. There was also news about President Eisenhower’s budget for Space exploration, handed to Congress a day earlier and a request to raise the national debt ceiling $5 billion. The big portion of the budget request was for Defense spending, but that took a backseat to talk about the Space Race, and how it was imperative to beat the Russians, since we had been lagging behind ever since the launch of Sputnik in October of 1957.
Also up for speculation on this day and in this program, was President Eisenhower’s plans to restructure the Defense Department, due to rivalries within the department which had caused delays in the development of missiles and other elements crucial to the Space program.
All those news features, along with liberal sprinklings of music and repartee via this News and Entertainment service, developed by NBC Radio in the 1950s. It was a way of trying to make what had been known as the Broccoli part of news more appetizing – informing while entertaining the audience. And it was broadcast every night.
So, to get an idea of what it was like to turn on your radio on January 14, 1958, and listen to what the mainstream was up to, here is a sampling of that typical night during the Cold War era of the 1950s, where things were in the process of changing.