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We Hold These Truths - December 15, 1941

December 4th, 2009

Now, we present one of the most unique broadcasts of the old time radio era.

"We Hold These Truths" was a one hour dramatic program written by Norman Corwin for the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.  Scheduled to be heard on all four networks on December 15, 1941, events would turn the program into something bigger than a simple commemoration.

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The federal government commissioned the broadcast and preparations were made for the show before Pearl Harbor, of course.  With the nation suddenly at war, the program took on a special meaning - it holds the record for the largest radio audience for a dramatic program.  Some have estimated that 63 million listeners, about half of the US population at the time, turned in to the program.

Heard in the show, broadcast from Hollywood, New York and Washington, DC, are Lionel Barrymore, Jimmy Stewart, Orson Welles, Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan, Bob Burns, Walter Huston Marjorie Main, Edward G. Robinson, and Rudy Vallee.  The music was composed and conducted by Bernard Herrman; Leopold Stokowski conducts the national anthem at the end of the program after remarks by President Roosevelt.

This mp3 of the program was transferred from an original Federal Radio Education Committee, US Office of Education, vinyl transcription set, matrix numbers G-3013-P, G-3014-P, G-3015-P, G-3016-P.

I think it's one of Orson Welles most memorable radio performances, by the way - he practically chews up and spits out the microphone during the show.

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