Arthur Godfrey’s straightforward, informal style—along with his tendency to poke fun at his sponsors—made him one of the most popular radio personalities of all time.
Godfrey was born August 31, 1903, in New York City. As “Red Godfrey, the Warbling Banjoist,” Godfrey made his radio debut in 1929 at WFBR/Baltimore.
The following year, Godfrey became an announcer at Washington D.C.’s NBC affiliate. Realizing that too many radio announcers came across as stiff or stuffy, Godfrey decided to speak to listeners as though he was engaged in a one-on-one conversation. His amiable approach proved successful at CBS affiliate WJSV/Washington, D.C. By 1942, Godfrey’s popular morning show was heard on WJSV and on CBS’ flagship station, WABC/New York.
In April of 1945, Godfrey reported President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s funeral over CBS. Two weeks later, the network gave him a national daily morning show, Arthur Godfrey Time. A year later, he took on a weekly evening program, Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, an amateur program which aired on CBS until 1956. Arthur Godfrey Time ended its run on April 30, 1972, the show’s 27th anniversary.
Arthur Godfrey died on March 16, 1983.
He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988.