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Newly digitized CBS Radio News broadcasts from December 7th, 1941 to be aired.

Milo Ryan Phonoarchive contains over 1,000 hours of WW II radio broadcasts

Mark the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor by listening to rare and previously unreleased World War II CBS Radio News broadcasts, December 7, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon in the Allen Library Auditorium at the University of Washington.

These December 7, 1941 recordings will include:

  • Albert Warner announcing the attack.
  • Robert “Bob” Trout reporting from London on the reaction of the British.
  • Maj. George Fielding Elliot’s analysis and speculation on the day’s events.

UW Libraries will close the event by listening to another unreleased recording: Attorney General Francis Biddle speaking to the Jewish Theological Seminary in November 1943 on the topic of "Minorities in War Time.”

Hear how CBS attempted to report, interpret, and share news of the event with its listeners.

These sound recordings are part of the Libraries' Milo Ryan Phonoarchive: CBS Radio News broadcasts, originally recorded locally by KIRO live from the CBS' NyC feed. UW Libraries has recently digitized these, and other recordings from the collection.

Milo Ryan was a professor in Communication at the University of Washington who gathered over 4,000 audio recordings (1939 – 1961) of CBS Radio News programs, public affairs shows, actualities, speeches, interviews, wartime dramas, daily World War II news updates. It stands as the only comprehensive collection of 20th century CBS Radio News broadcasts.

Included are broadcasts by Edward R. Murrow and his "Boys": William L. Shirer, Eric Sevareid, Tom Grandin, Larry LeSueur, Charles Collingwood, Howard K. Smith and others; recordings of speeches made by Churchill, Eisenhower, Einstein and JFK; not to mention as a story on Germany finding a substitute for coffee during wartime shortages.

The original 16-inch acetate “transcription” discs were created by KIRO in order to time-shift these Eastern Time zone “dinnertime” broadcasts to re-air during Pacific Time zone “dinnertime.” The UW Libraries dubbed them to 7-inch reel-to-reel tapes; the discs were then transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

UW is working with CBS and NARA on the project to digitize these reels for preservation – a tedious process done in real time and expected to take several months – and make them accessible online. To date, approximately 500 hours, just over one-third of the archive, have been digitized.

Listen to excerpts from the collection online.

John Vallier, head of Libraries Distributed Media Services describes the collection as, “a staggering historic sound trove for serious researchers and amateur history buffs alike.”

Funding for the project is thanks, in part, to The Kenneth S. and Faye G. Allen Library Endowment.

Vallier is still seeking funding to accelerate the digitization and access of these historical documents.

Related resources:

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  • John Vallier, Head, Libraries Distributed Media Services, University of Washington, vallier@uw.edu 206-616-1210
  • A.C. Petersen, Libraries Communications Officer, University of Washington, acpete@uw.edu 206-543-9389