Between 1933 and 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt entered American homes through his radio broadcast “Fireside Chats.” Often beginning the broadcasts with the greeting“Good evening, friends”, the president delivered news directly to the American people.
In his earliest radio messages, dealing with the nation’s economic crisis, the President urged the public to have faith in the banks and to support the New Deal.
In 1936, shortly after visiting nine western states affected by drought, the president discussed “Drought Conditions” on September 6th, saying in part, “I shall never forget the fields of wheat so blasted by heat that they cannot be harvested. I Shall never forget field after field of corn stunted, earless and stripped of leaves, for what the sun left the grasshoppers took. I saw brown pastures which would not keep a cow on fifty acres. Yet I would not have you think for a single minute that there is permanent disaster in these drought regions, or that the picture I saw meant depopulating these areas. No cracked earth, no blistering sun, no burning wind, no grasshoppers are a permanent match for the indomitable American farmers and stockmen and their wives and children who have carried on through desperate days, and inspire us with their self-reliance, their tenacity and their courage. It was their fathers’ task to make homes; it is their task to keep those homes; it is our task to help them win their fight”.
In 1940 the war in Europe was a cause of public concern and the President addressed the people’s fears, first in a speech on National Defense delivered on May 26th, and on December 29th when he discussed National Security.
On December 9th 1941, in his most famous Fireside Chat, the President issued a declaration of war on Japan, in the “A Day Which Will Live In Infamy” speech.
On March 1st, 1945 in his final “Fireside Chat” with the American people, President Roosevelt detailed the steps to victory the United States Armed Forces were taking in Europe and in the South Pacific. The President concluded his address with an appeal to all citizens, “One sure way every man, woman and child can keep faith with those who have given, and are giving, their lives, is to provide the money which is needed to win the final victory. I urge all Americans to buy War Bonds without stint. Swell the mighty chorus to bring us nearer to victory.”
Following the lead of President Roosevelt, President Obama has promised to enter American homes and workplaces every Saturday morning, through his Weekly Address, an internet broadcast that is a modern day version of the Fireside Chat radio broadcasts offered in difficult times by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.