The First Lady of Radio

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Historic Broadcasts
Edited by:

Published to coincide with an American RadioWorks® documentary, the first-ever compilation of Eleanor Roosevelt’s historic radio appearances, with a foreword by Blanche Wiesen Cook

“[Eleanor Roosevelt] was terrified of speaking in public at first, and her high-pitched voice could sail off uncontrollably. Yet she became one of the most effective speakers of her time.”
—David McCullough

On December 7, 1941, as a stunned nation gathered around the radio to hear the latest about Pearl Harbor, Eleanor Roosevelt was preparing for her weekly Sunday evening national radio program. At 6:45 p.m., listeners to the NBC Blue network heard the First Lady’s calm, measured voice explain that the president was conferring with his top advisers to address the crisis. It was a remarkable broadcast. With America on the verge of war, the nation heard first not from their president, but from his wife.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s groundbreaking career as a professional radio broadcaster is almost entirely forgotten. As First Lady, she hosted a series of prime-time programs that revolutionized how Americans related to their chief executive and his family. Now The First Lady of Radio rescues these broadcasts from the archives, presenting a carefully curated sampling of transcripts of Roosevelt’s most famous and influential radio shows, edited and set into context by award-winning author and radio producer Stephen Drury Smith. With a foreword by Roosevelt’s famed biographer, historian Blanche Wiesen Cook, The First Lady of Radio is both a historical treasure and a fascinating window onto the power and influence of a pioneering First Lady.

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