THE MARCH OF TIME
One of radio’s earliest news programs, The March of Time was the brainchild of radio executive Fred Smith and Time magazine circulation director Roy Larsen. Radio news reporting was in its infancy when Smith suggested a show designed to dramatize the news, utilizing voices and music to re-enact what radio could not yet report live.
This “radio newsreel” debuted over CBS on March 6, 1931, and initially focused on domestic stories. With the outbreak of war in Europe, the show’s coverage expanded to include international events.
Actors were asked to impersonate and directly quote the newsmakers of the day, whether the subject was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Al Capone, Adolf Hitler or Fred Allen. The March of Time’s repertory company included Agnes Moorehead, Art Carney and future Radio Hall of Fame member Orson Welles. From 1933 onward, narrator Westbrook Van Voorhis was heard as “The Voice of Time.”
In 1942, The March of Time became a straight news program, relying on short-wave reports from Time correspondents around the world. The show continued in this format until it left the air in 1945.
Westbrook Van Voorhis died on July 13, 1968.
The March of Time was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1990.