Correspondents and commentators

"Eleanor Roosevelt Radio Interview, 1947." Courtesy Arizona Jewish Historical Society, via Mountain West Digital Library. 

By the 1930s, radio news—and broadcast programs, more generally—were such a hit that established newspapers were seeing dramatic decreases in circulation. Networks began to establish their own permanent news bureaus in major cities. In fact, in 1933, CBS started placing correspondents in every American city with a population of 20,000 or more, in addition to many foreign capitals. Radio journalism soon hinged on live coverage of everything from sporting events and political speeches, to major court trials.

The popularity and expansion of broadcast news meant that journalists had new roles as commentators and on-air reporters. News radio became the go-to source of information, for stories at home and abroad. By 1939, a poll estimated that more than 25 percent of Americans relied on the radio as their main source for news. A few years later, in 1946, it was up to more than 60 percent. This was coupled with the introduction of broadcast advertising in 1922, making radio programming an incredibly profitable market—and a new communication force to be reckoned with. By 1928, the Republican Party was spending more than 20 percent of its overall presidential campaign budget on radio advertising.

Broadcast news programs and journalists soon joined the rising ranks of radio entertainment personalities. Moreover, these men and women had a role in helping Americans engage with the news in a way they never had before—giving them a chance to hear a variety of opinions, engage with the news in real-time, and listen to and analyze politicians in a new, dynamic way.