On the 21st September 1939, radio station WJSV in Washington, D.C. did something amazing: they recorded their entire day of output. From sign-on at 6am, to sign-off at 1am. Today is 75 years to the day since that recording was made; which means it seems an ideal time to inform you – or merely remind you – that the entire day is available to listen to online.1
Many others have written about the background to this remarkable recording – this piece on RadioArchives.com and this piece from the Library of Congress will tell you all you need to know. As the only complete day which has survived from what some call the Golden Age of Radio, its importance is only beaten by the sheer visceral impact of listening to the recording. This is no dry, worthy exercise – actually hearing the material is the closest you’ll get to travelling back to the United States in 1939. A horrendous cliche perhaps, but one I honestly believe is true.
The only thing I would add is the following: yes, it’s the only recording of a complete day which has survived from that era. But think about it: unless you happen to be sitting next to a load of compliance recordings2 or have access to BBC Redux, it’s difficult enough to hear an entire day’s radio broadcast from a few weeks ago, let alone 75 years. It makes this recording all the more amazing.3
So if you’re not doing much this Sunday, why not stick it on? The truly hardcore could stream the whole thing to listen to in the background for the entire day. Or you could use the individual files listing to dip in and out: a news bulletin here, a soap opera there, or just some music.
And reflect that you’re listening to a time where America had not yet entered World War II. And marvel at how lucky we are this recording was ever even made… let alone that it survives.
There are many versions of the day dotted around the internet, but that link is by far the best quality version I have found. ↩
Fun fact: my first job working in television had me sitting at a desk next to a load of VHS tapes… containing compliance recordings for popular adult chat & wank service Bang Babes. ↩
Does anyone know of any complete day recordings of Radio 1, from any point from 1967 to around 1995? If you do, please let me know… ↩