Sunday, March 12, 1933. Over the radio, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt speaks to the nation for the first time. It was the first of what would be known as his “fireside chats” — a series of 30 evening radio addresses to the American people, between 1933 and 1944, in which FDR discussed his policy prescriptions. He’d previously made such radio appeals during his tenure as governor of New York and discovered that it was an effective tool for mobilizing public support for his legislative initiatives.
Conventional historical wisdom holds that these national broadcasts created an intimate space between people and president. Roosevelt, with his cheerful patrician voice, used the events to gently explain his sweeping policy agenda, and to reassure a depression- and war-anxious citizenry.
Listen to, and read the transcript of, FDR’s inaugural fireside chat on the bank failures that led to the crisis of the Great Depression here.