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December 7, 1941: When “Radio News” Came of Age

| December 7, 2021

On the “Day of Infamy,” radio news had to grow up in a big hurry

By Mark Wainwright

 

SYRACUSE — In the midst of today’s 24/7/365 news cycle, when “breaking news” is an hourly occurrence, it’s worth remembering that broadcasting was very different 80 years ago.

The concept of news on the radio barely existed in the early days of the medium. While radio had been covering important happenings since its beginning — Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats,” political conventions, elections, major sports events and such — news, as we know it, was a low priority. It wasn’t until radio’s “Golden Age”in the 1930s that regular updates of the day’s news began to take hold. Americans typically depended on newspapers to get their daily news fix, even more so when “breaking news” happened. Radio wasn’t really equipped to handle these situations, so it fell to the wire services and newspapers to break the news. Those old movie scenes of reporters running in and yelling “stop the presses!” or of street-corner newsboys hawking “extra, extra, read all about it!” were not just dramatic license.

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