CBS Radio – Report To The Nation: The 1950 Elections – narrated by Edward R. Murrow – November 9, 1950 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
Continuing our month of notable radio documentaries, this one from CBS News in 1950. Touted as the first of its kind – over 50 CBS Radio affiliates recorded hundreds of hours of interviews, campaign addresses, debates and rallies – all via “that new medium” tape and spliced together to present this record of an event to be broadcast via network radio – all presided over by Edward R. Murrow, the Dean of Newscasters.
Normally, off-year elections like this one from 1950, would be rather humdrum affairs – lackluster, resulting in voters woefully absent from the polls come election day.
And whether by way of juxtaposing bits of tape to create tension and intrigue or the fact that 1950 would set the stage of 1952, and the possibilities that there would be no Truman White House in 1952. Coupled with the fact that the Korean War was a little over four months old probably added to the overall anxiety. In any case, this documentary proved to be pretty exciting just by the fact of who emerged the victors and how that would impact on November of ’52 based on what was occurring at the polls in 1950. Names that would be firmly part of our collective consciousness in the coming decades.
But it also did much to convey a sense of urgency to the audience that simply wasn’t there before, based on the technology at the time. Documentaries could be powerful tools, when used to create a stream of information, not to mention the possibilities of influencing the listener.
Again, this is from CBS, who really were the frontrunners of spotting the benefits of this technology and they jumped on this with both feet and both hands.
To get an idea the climate, both political and technological in 1950, here is Edward R. Murrow narrating Report To The Nation: The 1950 Elections as broadcast on November 9, 1950.
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