There have been many iconic and historic moments captured on radio over the past century (even a speech by Albert Einstein!). Whether they be lectures by famous historical figures, live coverage of impactful and important events, or even pop culture oriented broadcasts, a little bit of everything has been captured on air. Here are a few of our favorites at Tivoli Audio.
The Hindenburg Disaster
The 1937 Hindenburg blimp disaster was famously recorded live on radio. The commentator at the time became well known for uttering the phrase ‘oh the humanity! which has been widely quoted since. It was the first time that recordings were ever used for a news broadcast. Listen to the recording yourself paired with video of the event here.
War of the Worlds Halloween Broadcast
Perhaps the most famous radio broadcast of all time was the 1939 Halloween special broadcast of HG Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds (1898), performed by Orson Welles. It was formatted as a series of breaking news bulletins, leading people to believe that there was an actual alien invasion occurring with thousands of people vaporized. While the program began by stating it to be a dramatization, many people joined the program late and believed the news broadcasts to be truthful. There was much anger at Welles after the episode aired. Afterwords, news style programs were banned from radio dramas for a time by the FCC. Listen to the program yourself here.
Einstein Speaks on Radio's Importance
Einstein was presenting at the 1930 German Radio and Audio Show in Berlin, and discussed how revolutionary it was to be able to speak to people via the incredible invention of radio. He stresses in his speech that people should always remember the technical innovation and research that resulted in the radio technology they use on a daily basis. Listen to an excerpt of his speech here.
'Fireside Chats' With The President
President Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats were very popular, and frequently occupied 50% of the available radio listening audience. He would speak about his New Deal, World War II, social security, the current political climate and other pressing domestic and global issues. In talking about these things, President Roosevelt allowed government and politics a direct and unfiltered line into the homes of the people. Listen to all of his fireside chats here.
It is no insignificant fact that the majority of the most interesting radio broadcasts were aired prior to 1950. The 1950s marked a changing point in the way people consumed their media, with many households opting for the increasingly affordable and popular TV set over the radio. With the rise of the TV, the allure of radio waned. It was no longer the media of choice for news and information, as TV had taken over that role. The recordings chosen here are the only aural artifacts of these events and moments, and are demonstrative of radio’s impact and import on history.