The Civil Defense mascot 'Bert the Turtle' promotes the Cold War's 'Duck and Cover' campaign
Smokey the Bear's original fire prevention poster from 1944, as illustrated by Albert Staehle
Annual March of Dimes campaign programs were regularly heard over Radio throughout the Golden Age
Special Red Cross programs and promotional bumpers were regularly heard before, during and well after the World War II years
Annual Savings Bond campaigns of the era often extended year-round over Radio
The 1960s' Litterbug and Every litter bit hurt campaigns were among the most iconic of the decade
1960s Watch Out for the Other Guy campaign
This was the Western Territories equivalent of a 'mansion' for 19th Century frontier families. Tens of housands of one-room structures like this were homes to families of six to nine family members. Far larger families were a necessity in hope of assuring the survival of at least four or five family members healthy enough to work a homestead.
America's first United States Pharmacopoeia (U.S.P.) wasn't issued until 1820 and consisted of only 217 agreed-upon drugs, medicines, or preparations. Today's Pharmacopoeia comprises over 13,000 drugs, vaccines, and medicines.
The above 1955 rules for both pedestrian and biking youth seem laughably stupid to some. And yet the highest single cause of childhood death in 1955 was street-crossing accidents. Sadly, that number is yet again on the rise. And when was the last time you saw a notice or warning like this?
Programs in the public interest were a prominent feature of Radio programming throughout its Golden Age. All of the major networks of the era not only adhered to the FCC's various Communications Act mandates to set aside a significant portion of their broadcasting schedules, but provided that time free of any broadcast costs. Many went even further by volunteering no cost or minimal cost production resources to public service programming in partnership with the numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of the era.
This undoubtedly comes as a shock to anyone born after the 1960s and raised during an increasingly commercialized, corporatized, unregulated, and 'free market' telecommunications environment. There are any number of contributing factors to this marked decline in genuinely beneficial, politically neutral, universally applicable, and socially, economically, and medically important public issues.
America's oft-cited 'Greatest Generation' was raised on Radio and early Television which broadcast as much as 15% of its daily programming devoted to public service programming in one form or another. There were Public Service Announcement (P.S.A.) bumpers, five minute mini-programs, and even regular 15-minute to hour-long programs entirely devoted to one social, health, or economic issue or another. Throughout the years of World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War, the Greatest Generation regularly heard or watched programs on:
- Safe and Defensive Driving Practices
- Cold and Flu Prevention
- The importance of Polio shots and other school vaccinations
- Healthy cooking and meal preparation practices
- The iconic 'duck and cover' messages of the Cold War years
- Drug addiction prevention campaigns
- Savings Bond campaigns
- The iconic 'stop, drop, and roll' campaigns of the 1950s
- The March of Dimes campaigns
- The various Smokey the Bear campaigns to prevent forest fires
- Local and national anti-littering campaigns
- Safe street-crossing campaigns
- C.A.R.E. campaigns
- Cancer prevention
- Cooperation with the Census
- National Safety Council campaigns
- American Red Cross campaigns
- Campaigns promoting fire-safe homes and materials
- Campaigns promoting good relations between the Public Safety Officers and the public
The Advertising Council was the predominant driving force in promoting Print media PSAs throughout the Golden Age of Radio era
Several of the campaigns promoted by the Advertising Council in Print and over Radio and Television
There were innumerable other similar P.S.A. campaigns throughout the era, but their preeminence between the mid-1930s to the late 1970s is a matter of demonstrable historical record. Bowing to increasingly heavy corporate lobbying, the Reagan Administration's FCC finally managed to eliminate altogether the language mandating the set aside of significant, free air time to promote issues in the public interest. That spelled the end of the public services messages that had become such an integral element of the Greatest Generation's Radio and Television experience. Thankfully, for the rest of the civilized world at least, PSAs in the public interest have continued on as a vitally important practice beyond the borders of the United States.
Even during the waning days of Radio's previously unequaled media influence, all of the networks continued their practice of providing programming in the public interest. 'Omibus' programs like NBC's long-running Monitor (1955-1975) took public service messaging to an even greater level, routinely incorporating all manner of PSAs into their weekend-long programming.
It's well worth noting throughout the Golden Age Radio era, the stark absence of fearmongering within the overwhelming majority of the era's PSAs. While fearmongering had proven to be an unfailingly successful tactic throughout the dictatorships and fascist countries around the world, the United States and Great Britain showed admirable restraint in deploying that particular tactic until the Reagan and Thatcher era. Once fearmongering found a renewed voice throughout both the United Kingdom and the United States, the relentless din of fear-based messaging ultimately extinguished forever President Franklin D. Roosevelt's admonition that "The only thing we have to fear is Fear itself." There's no irony whatsoever in the fact that PSAs in the public interest vanished almost overnight once fearmongering regained a foothold in both America and Great Britain during the 1980s. There was, however, a truly remarkable irony in George Orwell's selection of the year '1984' as the setting for his extraordinarily prescient novel, "Nineteen Eighty-Four," which he penned in 1948.
In the final analysis, the employment of every means practical to disseminate messaging in the public interest remains one of the hallmarks of any truly free society. Education and information remain the only history-proven means' to mitigate or extinguish the fears of any genuinely free and democratic society. Conversely, one of the most time-honored metrics in assessing the self-confidence, freedom, and viability of any society is the degree to which fearmongering succeeds or fails in that society. Fearmongering failed miserably throughout the Golden Age of Radio era--in spite of wars, the Wall Street Crash, the Great Depression, the unprecedented cowardice evinced by the House Un-American Activities Committees, and the Cold War years of a very real threat of nuclear conflict. Through it all, a steady flow of mandated information and education via Print, Radio and Television kept fearmongering well at bay.
New York's Health Information Foundation.
Health Information Foundation (H.I.F.) was founded in 1942 as a study and policy research center in support of the Pharmaceutical Industry. HIF's motto, "Information Is Your Key to Health," summarized the driving impetus behind the Foundation's efforts. Based in New York City and funded entirely by the emerging 'Big Pharma' interests of the era, a growing byproduct of some of its longer and more comprehensive studies were years of statistics on the costs of hospital care, the growing gap in survival rates between the poor, the middle class and the wealthy, the growing costs of health care, and the disparities between health care available to the colored population as compared with the white population. The Foundation also developed extensive models for the burgeoning Private Health Insurance Industry, upon which the predictive metrics and demographic models of many of the earliest large scale medical insurance policies were based.
As the Foundation's wealth of statistical information began to accumulate, it was in a unique position to provide statistical support to both the medical industries of the era as well as to the U.S. Government. As the Foundation's reputation continued to grow, it became one of the important sources of statistical research into the latest medical advances, treatment regimes, and medical technologies of the era.
By way of advancing the Foundation's interests and reputation even further, it sponsored and produced the Radio series The Endless Frontier in January, 1952, featuring the distingushed actor Raymond Massey as the series' narrator. The Endless Frontier explored the most dramatic advances in medical technology and research up to that point in medical history as well as previews of medical research and technology then on the horizon and well within Man's reach.
Health Information Foundation further adapted their The Endless Frontier NBC series into a series of articles by Wade Arnold, NBC executive producer of The Endless Frontier. The articles appeared in booklet form, also titled "The Endless Frontier" and released for distribution to schools and libraries throughout the country. The articles dealt with then recent research in cancer, cortisone, nutrition, heart disease, and battlefront medicine.
NBC and Health Information Foundation team up again
The Endless Frontier was so well-received that NBC and Health Information Foundation teamed up yet again during the holiday season of 1952. The Forty Million was proposed as a follow-up program to The Endless Frontier but with a concentration on the health concerns, health care, and medical advances with respect to Child Health in America--and by extension, throughout the world.
Somewhat more ambitious than its The Endless Frontier series, NBC brought together The Endless Frontier's producer and writer, Wade Arnold, and an ensemble cast of The Lockharts--Gene, Kathleen, and daughter June--and Josephine Hull and Thomas Mitchell to provide dramatizations illustrating each program's topics. The series' premiere, Accidentally Speaking, first aired on Saturday evening, October 25th, 1952.
"The Forty Million" referred to the then estimated forty-million children of America and the history of their various health concerns. The series traced the almost total absence of preventative medicine for juveniles, let alone for adults, until the 20th Century. Many of the dramatized vignettes illustrated the various reasons for the high mortality rates throughout the U.S. prior to 1900. Americans prior to the 1900s were forced to rely almost entirely on their respective faiths and the vagaries of fate in their hope to survive beyond the age of a toddler. Outbreaks of disease and illness we view as relatively benign today could decimate entire settlements, towns, and regions of the 1800s. Diptheria was referred to as simply 'croup' and tuberculosis was referred to as 'consumption.' Mothers of the era deemed themselves greatly blessed if even four of their six children survived beyond birth or early childhood. The average age of mortality for adults of the 1800s was fifty.
Infectious disease prior to the 20th Century could jump species', borders or entire continents throughout the world. The advent of faster and more efficient transportation only served to accelerate outbreaks of infectious disease and contagions of the 19th Century. The Forty Million reported that at the turn of the 19th Century, the survival rate among children four years and under was one in twelve.
Supported as it was by the Pharmaceutical Industry, Health Information Foundation understandably stressed the hundreds of preventative and prophylactic serums, vaccines, and drugs that ultimately eliminated most of the more common communicable childhood diseases altogether during the 20th Century.
The Forty Million was presented through a series of nine 'chapters' during its original 1952 run:
- Chapter 1 -- Accidentally Speaking. Addressed the single greatest mortality threat to American children of the 20th Century--accidents at school and at home.
- Chapter 2 -- Death Was Catching. A history of the infectious diseases and contagions that dramatically impacted child mortality rates prior to the 20th Century.
- Chapter 3 -- The Healing Blade. Addressed dramatic advances in juvenile surgery.
- Chapter 4 -- The Little Piece of Paper. Addressed the need for fully qualified and uniformly trained health professionals.
- Chapter 5 -- Villain In Hiding. Documented the importance of a healthy diet from the 'basic seven' food groups in combatting malnutrition.
- Chapter 6 -- Sound Bodies for Sound Minds. Addressed the important relationship between a child's physical health and exercise and his or her mental health.
- Chapter 7 -- Danger Is A Size. Documented how advances in pre-natal and post-natal care reduced infant mortality.
- Chapter 8 -- Davey Kills A Giant. Traced the establishment and importance of School Health Programs.
- Chapter 9 -- Friend of The Bride. The final 'chapter' in the original broadcasts of the series mounted a tribute to the health professionals of the 20th Century--as exemplified by the 'family doctor' of the 1950s.
Owing to its important contribution, popularity, and impact--and its inital airing during the hotly contested Presidential Race of 1952 and 1952's holiday season--NBC rebroadcast six of what it deemed the most important of the originally broadcast chapters of The Forty Million as a Summer series in 1953, as follows:
- Chapter 1 -- Death Was Catching
- Chapter 2 -- Friend of The Bride
- Chapter 3 -- Villain In Hiding
- Chapter 4 -- Accidentally Speaking
- Chapter 5 -- Davey Kills A Giant
- Chapter 6 -- Sound Bodies For Sound Minds
The dramatizations throughout the series were interwoven with historical exposition necessary to advance the script. Josephine Hull's first-person account of a grandmother of the early 20th Century in Death Was Catching was particularly poignant, as--reportedly--was Thomas Mitchell's in The Little Piece of Paper. The series' dramatic support was rounded out by all three members of the Lockhart Family of Radio, Film, Stage, and Television fame--Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockhart, and June Lockhart. Legendary NBC-Radio announcer Ben Grauer served as the host and spokesperson for Health Information Foundation and Peter Roberts was the series' announcer.
|RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.
Notes on Provenances:
The most helpful provenances were the log of the RadioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.
The OTR World-renowned, OTR-award winning OTR Author, and real OTR historian, Martin Grams, Jr., apparently wows American OTR convention audiences with a Powerpoint presentation--and to self-reported standing ovations, naturally--proving beyond the shadow of a doubt and with geometric logic that the use of newspaper listings, magazines and trade papers from the 1920s to 1960s to research the broadcast history and background of Radio programs from the Golden Age is something only rank amateurs, rubes, or reckless fools would employ.
While unquestionably the biggest fish in the small pond that is OTR, Grams' own first ambitious $90 opus, Radio Drama, cites only the 1953 rebroadcasts of The Forty Million in his authoritative tome's log of the series.
Rank amateurs and utterly uncredentialed as we are, we couldn't help but employ newspaper listings to ferret out the actual, true, historically accurate, original broadcast run of The Forty Million from October 25th 1952 to December 27th 1952. Musta been rank uncredentialed amateur's luck, Q.E.D.
Another minor quibble with Grams' real historian log is that he completely ignored three of the original programs of the series--entirely understandable since he logged only the subset of six rebroadcasts of The Forty Million from 1953.
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[Date, title, and episode column annotations in red refer to either details we have yet to fully provenance or other unverifiable information as of this writing. Red highlights in the text of the 'Notes' columns refer to information upon which we relied in citing dates, date or time changes, or titles.]