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Arthur Godfrey Time

On leaving the Coast Guard, Godfrey became a radio announcer for the Baltimore station WFBR - now WJZ (AM) - and moved the short distance to Washington, D.C. to become a staff announcer for NBC-owned station WRC the same year and remained there until 1934. He was already an avid flyer. In 1933, Godfrey nearly died following a violent car crash outside Washington that left him hospitalized for months. During that time, he decided to listen closely to the radio and realized that the stiff, formal announcers could not connect with the average radio listener, as the announcers spoke in stentorian tones, as if giving a formal speech to a crowd and not communicating on a personal level. Godfrey vowed that when he returned to the airwaves he would affect a relaxed, informal style as if he were talking to just one person. He also used that style to do his own commercials and became a regional star.

In addition to announcing, Godfrey sang and played the ukulele. In 1934 he became a freelance entertainer, but eventually based himself on a daily show titled Sundial on CBS-owned station WJSV (now WWWT) in Washington. Godfrey was the station's morning disc jockey, playing records, delivering commercials (often with tongue in cheek), interviewing guests, and even reading news reports during his three-hour shift. Godfrey loved to sing, and would frequently sing random verses during the "talk" portions of his program. In 1937, he was a host on Professor Quiz, radio's first quiz program. One surviving broadcast from 1939 has Godfrey unexpectedly turning on his microphone to harmonize with The Foursome's recording of "There'll Be Some Changes Made."

He knew President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who listened to his Washington program, and through Roosevelt's intercession, he received a commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve before World War II. Godfrey eventually moved his base to the CBS station in New York City, then known as WABC (now WCBS), and was heard on both WJSV and WABC for a time. In the autumn of 1942, he also became the announcer for Fred Allen's Texaco Star Theater show on the CBS network, but a personality conflict between Allen and Godfrey led to his early release from the show after only six weeks.

Godfrey became nationally known in April 1945 when, as CBS's morning-radio man in Washington, he took the microphone for a live, firsthand account of President Roosevelt's funeral procession. The entire CBS network picked up the broadcast, later preserved in the Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly record series, I Can Hear it Now. Unlike the tight-lipped news reporters and commentators of the day, who delivered breaking stories in an earnest, businesslike manner, Arthur Godfrey's tone was sympathetic and neighborly, lending immediacy and intimacy to his words. When describing new President Harry S. Truman's car in the procession, Godfrey fervently said, in a choked voice, "God bless him, President Truman." Godfrey broke down in tears and cued the listeners back to the studio. The entire nation was moved by his emotional outburst.

Godfrey made such an impression on the air that CBS gave him his own morning time slot on the nationwide network. Arthur Godfrey Time was a Monday-Friday show that featured his monologues, interviews with various stars, music from his own in-house combo and regular vocalists. Godfrey's monologues and discussions were unscripted, and went wherever he chose. "Arthur Godfrey Time" remained a late morning staple on the CBS Radio Network schedule until 1972.


Episode Title [Total of: 74]CategoryRating
1 - AGT - News Fdr Funeral Procession Warthur Godfrey
Episode date: 1945-4-15
2 - Arth Arthur Godfrey Time - Guest Gene Autry
Episode date: 1948-10-8
3 - Arthur Godfrey Time - 'If That Ain't Love'
Episode date: 1948-7-21
4 - Arthur Godfrey Time - 30th Anniversary-1
Episode date: 1964-1-20
5 - Arthur Godfrey Time - 30th Anniversary-2
Episode date: 1964-1-21
6 - Arthur Godfrey Time - 30th Anniversary-3
Episode date: 1964-1-22
7 - Arthur Godfrey Time - 30th Anniversary-4
Episode date: 1964-1-23
8 - Arthur Godfrey Time - American Tourists In Europe
Episode date: 1953-10-21
9 - Arthur Godfrey Time - Billie Holiday
Episode date: 1947-1-13
10 - Arthur Godfrey Time - Cordets- Wallie Cocks
Episode date: 1949-9-26

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