On this date in 1933, one week after taking the office as President of the United States, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the first of what would be thirty ‘fireside chats’ over the radio. His first ‘fireside chat’ dealt with the banking crisis.
One of Roosevelt’s greatest talents was that of a communicator. The depression was of course going on at the time and FDR used the radio to inform and to calm the nation. No television at that time- radio was the television of the day, the best way to communicate directly to the people. The ‘fireside chats’ were given in a conversational tone, people around the country would gather around their radios and listen. The ‘fireside chats’ were effective. Many people came to view FDR as their friend in the White House. The times of his ‘fireside chats’ varied- the shortest being 11 minutes and the longest being forty-five minutes. This first chat was 13 minutes and 42 seconds in length. FDR didn’t run these chats into the ground- the highest number of ‘fireside chats’ in a year was four, in 1933, 1942 and 1943. His final ‘fireside chat’ was on June 12, 1944.
The idea of the ‘fireside chat’ was resurrected by President Jimmy Carter in his presidency- on television- these didn’t go over as well as FDR’s did. Carter wasn’t FDR.