38th Parallel U.S.A.

38th Parallel U.S.A. - War left its mark on everyone - especially those at home.

The Great Radio Documentaries – “38th Parallel U.S.A.” – 1953 – Past Daily Pop Chronicles.

38th Parallel U.S.A.
38th Parallel U.S.A. – War left its mark on everyone – especially those at home.

38th Parallel U.S.A. Narrated by Wil Rogers Jr. – June 26, 1953 – CBS Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Continuing our series this month of notable Radio Documentaries, this one comes from June of 1953 a little less than a month before the Armistice ending the Korean War was signed. Narrating this look at life along the 38th Parallel of the U.S. was Wil Rogers Jr. and it gives a primary example of how one can be truly creative with a tape recorder, a razor blade and an idea and pull something unique and riveting together.

The 38th Parallel, in case you didn’t know, was the line which separated North and South Korea, the line which the Truce was being negotiated and this documentary follows that line all across the U.S. with voices of the people whose sons, husbands, boyfriends and brothers were all in service in some capacity in the war on the other side of the world but on the same parallel.

Certainly a creative idea put forth by the CBS Unit 1 Documentary Division and one which captures the feeling and the affects the war was having on America; those people left at home.

This documentary also gave some idea of just how versatile and potentially creative this new medium of recording could be. And how, even though Television was bringing the war into the living room, it was radio that was giving it the immediacy and importance TV at the time could not. Video was in its infancy and portable video was a very long ways off. Most all news (and background pieces) were shot on film which was then flown back to the U.S. for processing, sometimes taking days before it reached the newsroom.

Because audio tape was much easier to deal with, the equipment required was not nearly as cumbersome and so interviews were more spontaneous and this added touch of realism gave these documentaries an added popularity.

To give you an idea of what the medium could do, here is that documentary, 38th Parallel U.S.A. from June 26, 1953 as broadcast by CBS Radio.


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