The Day Broadcast News Was Born


Broadcasting is celebrating a birthday this month.

On March 13, 1938, the modern newscast was born.

On that day, just over 75 years ago, CBS Radio aired not just a broadcast, but a broadcast that linked live reports from across Europe as Hitler moved to annex Austria. That had never been done before. Now, it’s the very heart of broadcast news: this is what is happening right now. 

Meh, you say now. But then —  it was extraordinary. No one had ever put together such a long series of news reports before to tell an audience what was happening as it was happening.  Some managers at CBS Radio said no one will listen to something that long ( this program was nearly 38 minutes), and that it was technically impossible. But the legendary Bill Paley said that was ‘unacceptable’.

The first World News Roundup was anchored by Robert Trout. It also was the first time some guy called Edward R. Murrow was on air on CBS Radio. (cigarettes for all!) Read the detailed story in The Atlantic here.

The Roundup is still on the air today, the longest running newscast ever. And it’s grown. You can listen to it online. You can hear the AM and PM editions on hundreds of stations across the country.

I’ve been on it twice. It was an honor.

Listen to it here. You can also find many modern examples of the CBS World News Roundup on SoundCloud. All of the last 75 years have been well worth it.

Image courtesy of WikimediaCommons.

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