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Dramatic Radio – “Oh, the humanity” August 27, 2006

Posted by William Spear in >> Dramatic Radio.

On Thursday, May 6, 1937, Herbert Morrison, a correspondent with Chicago’s WLS, was in Lakehurst, New Jersey to cover a routine transatlantic crossing of Germany’s airship, Hindenburg.

What Morrison saw was one of the first examples of radio’s power to deliver dramatic events in realtime.

As he stood with a crowd of onlookers in Lakehurst watching the airship moor, Morrison reported as follows: “The ship is riding majestically toward us like some great feather, riding as though it was mighty good…mighty proud of the place it’s playing in the world’s aviation. …

“The ship is no doubt bustling with activity as we can see; orders are shouted to the crew, the passengers probably lining the windows looking down at the field ahead of them, getting their glimpse of the mooring mast. And these giant flagships standing here, the American Airline flagships, waiting to direct them to all points in the United States when they get the ship moored. …

“It’s practically standing still now. They’ve dropped ropes out of the nose of the ship, and it’s been taken a hold of down on the field by a number of men. It’s starting to rain again; the rain had slacked up a little bit. The back motors of the ship are just holding it, just enough to keep it from —

“It burst into flames! Get out of the way! Get out of the way! It’s fire and it’s crashing! It’s crashing terrible! Oh, my! Get out of the way, please! It’s burning, bursting into flames and is falling on the mooring mast. …

“This is the worst of the worst catastrophes in the world! Oh, it’s crashing…oh, four or five hundred feet into the sky, and it’s a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. There’s smoke, and there’s flames, now, and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast…Oh, the humanity, and all the passengers screaming around here!”

Harrowing or entertaining, radio moves its audience.

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