The first radio Thanksgiving

Here’s a nice little post about our favorite president giving the first-ever presidential Thanksgiving address to be broadcast over radio on November 23, 1927 – a scant 84 years ago this Wednesday. As we know, Coolidge was the first president to really take advantage of what was then the booming new medium of radio; it might even be said that radio was the ideal medium for him: he was too unprepossessing and un-theatrical to have “made it” in either the preceding era of spellbinding orators with mesmerizing stage presence, or the later years of telegenic personalities suited to provide sound bites and glamour.

Dateline Northampton, Feb. 13, 1931

In his column of Feb. 13, 1931 -exactly 80 years ago tomorrow- , Calvin Coolidge marveled at the spread of radio technology and the very beginnings of television, but also cautioned that moral development should not fall behind technological development. In this he surely was right, and still is.

A new social force is being developed by radio waves. The address of the Pope was given wider broadcasting than any other ever delivered, reaching almost all over the world. The morning papers carry radio photographs of Marconi in Rome preparing for its transmission. Report comes simultaneously of  a successful experiment in television by which people in Leipzig were able to recognize the image of a man in Schenectady. The time may not be far away when it will be possible to have a receiving set in the home that will produce a sound motion picture. Central stations may be able to receive and broadcast to the eye and ear events taking place all over the world.

It is difficult to comprehend what an enormous power this would be. New forces are constantly being created for good or for evil. When primitive people come in contact with civilization usually they use its powers for their own destruction. Unless the moral power of the world increases in proportion to its scientific power there is a real danger that the new inventions will prove instruments of our own destruction. If moral development keeps step, peace and good will have gained new allies.