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Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Introduction To The Introductions

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The most common questions I receive from listeners to this podcast pertain to the voices played during the show's various intros. Tonight, I thought it would be fun to go through the intros and identify each of the voices and when the words were spoken. There are, in total, six variations of the intro, including the one without words you heard at the beginning of tonight's show. The shows theme was written and produced by a listener named Gena, who has steadfastly refused to be further identified. I owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude. She also, by the way, created the artwork for the podcast.

Without any further ado, let's go to the first intro.

The first voice you heard was that of President Franklin Roosevelt. The date was December 8th, 1941 and Roosevelt was addressing a joint session of Congress. As you know, he was there to ask the body to declare war on Japan, which it did. Germany would declare war on the United States on December 11th of that year.

The second voice is that of President Ronald Reagan. The date was June 12th, 1987 and Reagan was addressing the people of West Berlin, a city cut off from East Berlin by a wall erected by the East German government in 1961. We'll hear more from this speech later.

The third voice belongs to Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The date was June 22, 1941 and Churchill was speaking to the British public about the German invasion of the Soviet Union, which had begun earlier that day. He said that the invasion was not a surprise to him and that, in fact, he had warned Josef Stalin about Hitler's duplicity. History shows us that Stalin was unprepared for an invasion and millions of Soviet citizens died as a result.

The fourth voice is that of Joseph Welch, who was head consul for the US Army during the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954. We could easily fill a podcast discussing Welch's exchange with Senator Joseph McCarthy that day, but the quote you heard was made in defense of a young lawyer who worked for Welch's law firm, a man who McCarthy accussed of belonging to a Communist front organization. The hearings were televised live and many historians believe they ultimately led to the downfall of McCarthy.

Fifth is a quote from President John F. Kennedy. The date was October 22nd, 1962 and Kennedy was addressing the American people on live television, updating them on the status of what became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The crisis would soon end peacefully, but on that night it was open question as to whether or not there would be a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union. The crisis resulted in the installation of a hotline connecting the White House and the Kremlin.

Sixth is part of Lou Gehrig's famous speech, given on July 4th, 1939, which became known as his Farewell to Baseball Address. Gehrig had been diagnosed with ALS, but the disease would come to be called by the famous player's name.

The final voice is once again Ronald Reagan's from the Berlin Wall address we discussed earlier.

Now we move to the second intro.

Over half of this introduction is dominated by Winston Churchill. He was reading a passage written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and sent to him by President Roosevelt in January, 1941. Churchill read the passage in a radio address to the British people soon thereafter.

The second voice belongs to Edward R. Murrow, the American correspondant in London for CBS radio during the darkest days of the war. He did a lot of his reporting from rooftops where the sound of German planes and bombs could be heard clearly in the skies over London. He introduced his reports by saying, " London" with the emphasis on "this". If you listen to CBS television today, that emphasis is still used.

The third and final voice for this intro is, once again, Ronald Reagan during his Berlin Wall speech in 1987.

Here's the third intro.

The first voice belongs to Neil Armstrong, the commander of Apollo 11. He is announcing that he and Buzz Aldrin have landed safely on the moon aboard the lunar lander 'Eagle'. The date was July 20th, 1969.

We return once again to Winston Churchill for our next voice. This excerpt is from a speech the Prime Minister gave in the House of Commons on June 18th, 1940, when an invasion of England by Germany seemed a real possibility. It is probably Churchill's most oft-quoted speech.

The next voice is one about which I receive the most questions. It belongs to Spiro Agnew, who served as President Richard Nixon's Vice President from 1969 to 1973. This excerpt is from a record Agnew recorded and released early in Nixon's first term entitled "Spiro T. Agnew Speaks Out". Agnew and his speechwriters were full of sometimes witty, often tongue-twisting and confusing one-liners.

The fourth voice is that of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during her address to the House of Commons on April 3rd, 1982. The Argentinian military had invaded the Falkland Islands the day before. This led to the Falklands War and the eventual return of the islands to British control.

The final voice of this intro belongs to President Harry Truman. He was addressing the American people on August 6th, 1945, telling them about a weapon known as an atomic bomb, a device so destructive it seemed to belong to the realm of science fiction.

Here's the fourth intro.

The first voice is familiar to almost every American over 40. It is Walter Cronkite, the longtime CBS news anchor who fought back tears as he announced the death of President John Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963.

The second voice is that of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who announced that there would be "peace in our time" after he signed the Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler on September 30th, 1938. The Second World War began almost exactly one year later.

The final voice is that of Jim Lovell, mission commander of Apollo 13. Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise narrowly avoided death in space after an oxygen tank rupture damaged their command module. They owed their lives to their tremendous personal courage and the incredible brainpower at NASA's disposal. The date was April 13th, 1970.

Here's the fifth and final intro.

The first voice is that of George Gay who, as an Ensign in the United States Navy, was the only survivor from Torpedo Squadron Eight based aboard the USS Hornet during the Battle of Midway in June, 1942. Gay survived the war, wrote a book about his experience and flew for TWA for over 30 years.

The second voice you heard is, again, that of Neil Armstrong announcing the landing of lunar lander 'Eagle' on the moon on July 20th, 1969.

The final voice belongs to President John F. Kennedy. This is an excerpt from his inaugural address of January 20th, 1961. This speech also contained the famous line "ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

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