franklin d. roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first great American radio voice. As President, his “fireside chats” drew more listeners than even the most popular programs during radio’s Golden Age.

Many heard FDR on the radio for the first time on July 2, 1932 when he promised a “New Deal for the American people” as he accepted his first Democratic nomination for president. Beginning March 12, 1933, Roosevelt spoke directly to the nation many times, on topics ranging from agriculture and banking to war.

He first used the “fireside chat” format in 1929, while he was Governor of New York. Roosevelt appealed to the public for help in passing his agenda and they responded by writing letters by the thousands. Once in the White House, he became the first chief executive to take advantage of the tremendous power of the airwaves. Radio allowed Roosevelt to share policy, but more importantly to share his personality.

The use of radio came naturally to Roosevelt and he became an expert at making each listener feel as though he were speaking directly to them. He combined a born-for-wireless voice, a love of language, and an actor’s timing and panache. Simply stated, FDR was at home in front of a microphone.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. Roosevelt had served for over 12 years, longer than any other President, and his death was met with shock and grief across the country and around the world.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2007.