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#180 FDR Communicator
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, February 8, 2023




#180 Blog Post – Wednesday, February 8, 2023


Posted by Denny Hatch


TheGreatest Communicator
In the History of the World


No One (Beforeor Since) Reached as Many People on

AnIntimate, One-to-one Basis as Franklin D. Roosevelt



[ThePresident] “shallfrom time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union,and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessaryand expedient.”

—U.S.Constitution, Article II, Section 3


Last evening Peggy and I spent three-plushours in front the TV. We had theequivalent of front row seats in the House of Representatives chamber in the U.S.Capitol. We watched the raucous, rude and crude assemblage of 1000+ politicians,stone faced garishly costumed military bigwigs and black-robed Supremes alongsideguests, dignitaries, fans and fanatics plus the 535 politicians popping up anddown like hoppy toads to applaud, shout encouragement, boo, hiss and heckle.


This was followed by the usual free-for-allmedia circus where wildly overpaid smarty-pants television personalities jostledfor attention so they explain to us what we really saw, what the Presidentreally meant and what conclusions we should really draw.


After a full hour-plus of distractions,disruptions and hysteria I went to bed unable remember a single word that JoeBiden said about anything.


The NetResult

Joe Biden’s 2023 Stateof the Union address last night reached 38.2 million viewers — a pathetic 11.4% of the US populationof 332.4 million. Yes, Folks, bloody pathetic!)


Contrastthis with…

FDR’s March 12, 1933, Fireside ChatNo. 1 on network radio (explaining the 1933 Banking Crisis) reached 61.3 million listeners — a whopping 45.5% of the USpopulation of 134.9 million.)

How FDR QuietlyShared His
Vast Knowledge with Millions.

During his 12 years as President, FranklinD. Roosevelt reached a huge swath of the population. His main platform was aseries of 30 folksy radio broadcasts running 11 to 44 minutes. CBS newsman BobTrout dubbed these talks “fireside chats.” This evoked the image of FDR sittingby himself in front of a friendly hearth with cracking flames. Radio is voiceonly. As a listener you could imagine he was talking directly to you alonealmost as though you were on the telephone together.


When the president signed off, thelistener could sit quietly and ponder his words and ideas. No interruption by apanel of know-it-all TV personalities out-shouting each other for our attention.


Was radio an effective way tocommunicate with voters? Franklin Roosevelt waswas elected by Landslides four times.


FDR’s Wildly Successful Presidency

• First elected in 1932, he assumed theoffice amidst the Great Depression — the worst economic disaster in the historyof the country. Americans were scared to death.


• Roosevelt — in person and on radio —was the ultimate salesman — always ebullient, perpetually positive andbelievable.


Rooseveltwas a “Method Marketer.” He was able to get inside the heads of the people hewanted to reach, think how they thought, and intuitively know just how to saywhat they wanted to hear.


Beforehe went live on the air with a Fireside Chat he would meditate — go into areverie and envision a small family huddled around the kitchen radio waiting tohear his message.


FDRhad a magnificent voice — rich, warm and ringing like a loving father.


Tosell his myriad programs/wares he treated everybody as an adult with respect.He tackled complex ideas and explained them, so they became completelyunderstandable, beneficial — and desirable.

• Under his masterful leadership he came up with the “New Deal” for America.Out of FDR’s extraordinary brain—in cahoots with his brilliant associate, HarryHopkins —  he launched the dizzyingblizzard of “Alphabet Agencies” and relief programs (a number of which arearound today). Among them: CCA, CWA, WPA, NRA, TVA, SEC, HOLC, USHA, PWA, NYA,NLRB, 20 new dams. By golly, he pulled it off! The Depression was licked by 1940and America was back on the road to glorious prosperity!


• Oops… Whereupon December 7, 1941,the Japs launched their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. They sank fourbattleships, killed 2,403 Americans and wounded another 1,178. Four days laterGermany declared war on the U.S.


• Suddenly with World War II we wereup to our necks in alligators all over again. You betcha Americans wanted tohear what this extraordinary president had to say about how he was going tosave the country and the world. (Which he did!)


• They didn’t want him orating to acrowd. They wanted to be spoken to personally, intimately and thoughtfully.Throughout his presidency he delivered 30 Fireside Chats.



Let Me Share with You Two Fascinating Stories.



TheView of Three Mile Island Nuclear Facility from
My Seaton Allegheny Airlines in Early April 1977.


At four in the morning of March 28,1979, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvaniawas the scene of the first serious accident in the in the industry history. Theoverheating problem was followed by a partial core meltdown. The release ofradioactive material covered a 20-mile radius causing the Pennsylvania GovernorDick Thornburgh and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to advise the evacuationof pre-school age children and pregnant women. In all 140,000 people skedaddledout of the area.  It made national andinternational headlines and scared the bejesus out of everybody who livedanywhere near nuclear power.


Etched in memory was the panicky phonecall I received from Joe Eby of Hershey ten miles from the accident. Peggy andI used to run into Joe and Muriel—lovely people—at curling events. We curledagainst them and socialized, but we never became close friends. Joe, a WorldWar II bomber pilot, who flew 37 missions over Germany, must have felt I was aguy on the East Coast with perspective on the news whom he could talk to.I think I calmed the Ebys down.


At the time I was freelancing andduring the first week in April I flew to Harrisburg for a meeting with mywonderful magazine client, the late Bob Doscher. On the flight out, I wassitting in the last row of an Allegheny Airlines puddle jumper next to a youngwoman who was an assistant manager of the nearest bank to the Three-mile Islandplant. While we were chatting, I glanced out the window and below me was thenotorious Three-mile Island atomic plant. I gawked.


The ladybanker told me the story about how the

accident caused her bank to run out of cash.

It seems the depositors were countryfolk did who not understand how banks worked. When queried in the aftermaththey said they honestly believed when they deposited money the bank wouldimmediately segregate it and store it the vault under their name, address andaccount number The bank would keep it separated from all the other money in thebank. When they heard about the meltdown, they were suddenly terrified theirmoney would be made radio-active by the Three Mile Island accident and theywould never get it back. Hence the run on cash.


No kidding.


I was gobsmacked. Harrisburg is astate capital. Weren’t these sophisticated, knowledgeable people who understandthe basics of finance?  Uh-uh.


This Same Problem Reared Its Head 50Years Earlier.

On October 24, 1929, New York StockMarket crashed, burned and failed to bounce back. The U.S. economy jerked alongfor two years. By1933, John and Jane Lunchbox had had it. They lost total confidencein the banking system. Fearful of losing their money, millions of Americansemptied their bank accounts and stashed the cash under the mattress or buriedit in the back yard rather than risk it in the bank.


Ergo: 9,000 banks failed in theDepression losing $7 billion of deposits (the equivalent of $160 billiontoday).


Whereupon on March 6, 1933, PresidentRoosevelt (a bare six days after he assumed office) issued the surprise EmergencyBanking Act (a.k.a. Executive Order these days) declaring a “Bank Holiday.” Allbanks were ordered closed for business for 7 days. The result was mayhem, butit worked. Banks stopped failing and the country climbed out of the Depression.


How Roosevelt Calmly Mansplained This Complex
Problem to the American People.

Franklin Roosevelt took to the radioand delivered a great talk — his first Fireside Chat. He explained how bankswork — chapter and verse. He did not patronize his audience. He was an adultspeaking to adults. He calmed the waters. The “chat” was so effective that thisbecame the communications medium of choice.


On YouTube:FDR’s First Fireside Chat. Listen and Be Dazzled.







Word Count: 1447

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