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Resettlement Administration - Pgm 3

March 24th, 2013

During the New Deal era, the Roosevelt administration used the new medium of radio to get the word out about new programs through syndicated shows.  Some, like programs featuring WPA musicians, was more subtle in their advertising approach.  Others were more direct in explaining New Deal programs to the public.

Resettlement Administration transcription label

Program 3 in the "Resettlement Administration" series presents a drama about the plight of tenant farmers, taking the listener through the development of tenant farming after slavery was abolished in the South after the Civil War, how tenant farmers wound up in perpetual debt and poverty, and how the Resettlement Administration could help them.

Conservatives, of course, were outraged at this type of radio "propaganda" - this is the type of program that the National Industrial Council (aka the National Association of Manufacturers) was combatting when they developed the radio serial "American Family Robinson".

What's curious about this particular show is that it features an Old Time Radio and classic Hollywood film voice you might recognize - Joseph Cotten.  The Resettlement Administration was only active in 1935-36, so the show probably from those years  and Cotten, at this point in his career, was appearing on-stage in New York with the Federal Theatre Project.  This is one of the earliest recording of Joseph Cotten on the air - the Goldin database lists a November 14, 1936 "Columbia Workshop" production of "Hamlet" with Cotten and he doesn't pop up on radio again until a September 1938 episode of CBS's "Mercury Theater".  Welles and others involved in the Federal Theatre Project, of course, picked up odd jobs on radio, most famously with Orson Welles appearing in "The Shadow" and "The March of Time".

The show was transferred from an original one-sided shellac Radio and Film Methods Corporation transcription, matrix number 288-A.  The label notes "Dyer Process Recording", "Use Filmmatic Needles" and address of company as 101 Park Avenue, New York City, CAledonia 5-7530-1.  The company probably also produced 16" transcription discs for use with filmstrips.  The show appears to be previously lost.

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