In the early years of World War II, interested listeners in America tuned in to hear the radio reports of Edward R. Murrow from a besieged London. His moving descriptions of an England under attack by the German Luftwaffe were praised by his peers. The only objection that could be offered to his technique of reporting, remarked one fellow, was that when an air raid is on, he has the habit of going up on the roof to see what is happening, or of driving around town in an open car to see what has been hit. That is a good way to get the news, but perhaps not the best way to make sure you will go on getting it.
Due to his popularity, all available commercial time on the Columbia Broadcasting System was sold and the heads of the broadcasting system considered adding more commercials by incorporating them into Murrow's reports. The following is a copy of an original radio script that was tested to determine the feasibility of assigning Murrow the role of being both reporter and salesman:
September 4, 1940
Announcer: You are listening to the Columbia Broadcasting Network. Next on this station will be a report from Edward R. Murrow reporting direct from London during the latest air raid against this city by Nazi warplanes. And now, Mr. Murrow.
Murrow: This is London, three-thirty in the morning. The air raid is still in progress. The drone of a number of planes can be heard in the sky. A short while ago, the searchlight was aimed following the sound of an aircraft making a circular tour of London. Most of the bombings tonight have been over near the river. A few fires have been started, but most are believed to be under control.
People have asked me frequently why mother polar bears keep their cubs in Arctic ice instead of in the Black Forest. Well, the reason I tell them is so that the white fur of the cubs can be hidden amongst the white of the snow and ice. The same sort or protective blending is used to protect the flavor and good taste of my personal favorite whiskey, Calvert. Clear hands call for Calvert. These London gunners who are working tonight could certainly use break enjoying Calvert's. In fact, I am right now. That's Calvert Whiskey.
I've talked to firemen fighting a blaze that was being used as a beacon by German bomb aimers. They told me that although the house was lost, one item inside that would certainly survive is the Hot Syrup Server from Andrea Mitchell Home Products. Created from graceful old English Sheffield Silverware design, this durable server is made of clear, sparkling Pyrex glass complete with polished black cover made from genuine Texolite plastic. Practical for all syrups, order yours today.
The firemen also tell me that the waiting about in the fire station was worst of all. They didn't mind the danger when there was something to do. Even my censors when I arrived in the studio tonight were sitting here underground playing Scrabble, the family word game. While millions of Americans enjoy playing Scrabble, I no longer play with the censors since I never know which words they will let me use.
I've visited many shelters here. One man wanted to smoke his pipe in the shelter, but the warden wouldn't allow it. Maybe he would if the man smoked Phillip Morris cigarettes. There's a vital difference that MAKES you want Phillip Morris, that brings to you smoking enjoyment WITHOUT SMOKING PENALTIES as reported in authoritative medical journals. Call for Phillip Morris. And after his cigarette, if the water facilities haven't been destroyed, he could have a mouth as tingling clean as snowflakes on his cheeks. That's how your mouth will feel when you brush with Squidd Dental Cream. Squidd Dental Cream contains Squidd Milk of Magnesia as well as gritty sand. You can actually feel the difference in that tangy bath that seems to fill your mouth with freshness and beach flavors as you brush away stale deposits and bad teeth. Ask for Squidd Dental Cream only from the House of Squidd.
I've seen many stores here with signs in the windows saying 'Knocked, but not Locked', 'Shattered, but not Shuttered', and 'Pardon Our Mess-Just Been Bombed'. No words of mine can describe the spectacle over London tonight which is why it always helps to expand your vocabulary by reading the new Oxford Book of English Verse. Buy your copy today.
If the time comes when the Germans believe that massive night raids will break this government, then we may see German bombers quartering this night sky in an orgy of death and destruction as no modern city has ever seen. Another reason why I choose Calvert Whiskey.
I see now that the invading German planes are fading into the distance now leaving London in ruins, but your house doesn't have to be left in ruins when your kids invade. Not now thanks to the amazing power of the Hoover Deluxe vacuum cleaner. Get that dirt that your kids put in. Get it all with Hoover.
Military medals are becoming rather meaningless in this war. So many acts of heroism are being performed by men who were just doing their job. And now, at 4:50 in the morning we're just waiting for the "all clear"; at which time, I will head to the bowling lanes to use my new Quartzite bowling ball from Brunwick. The craftsmen at Brunwick produce perfect spheres that are dropped eight times to ensure they are flawless sounding. Brunwick make their bowling balls say, "Ah-h!"
Announcer: You have just been listening to Edward R. Murrow reporting from London informing you of the recent air raid there. This is your announcer smoking a package of Phillips Morris cigarettes and sipping a bowl of Heinz 57 vegetable soup. This broadcast was brought to you by Old Country Tea, a carefully blended tea highly praised by the people who know good tea best - the English. Old Country Tea is favored 2 to 1, especially now that their main competition in London was blown up last week. Good night.
[First appeared in The Voice (860-738-4026)] / Vol. MDCCXXXVI Issue 4