Reprinted by permission from the (private) AIRdaily:
Today is the 39th Anniversary of the first All Things Considered. The first program included a documentary of the largest anti-war demonstration in history (wikipedia). The demonstrators filled the roads, blocked the bridges and stalled the morning commuter traffic, all in an effort to shut down the government. The demonstrators were met with 10,000 federal troops, 5,000 D.C. police and 2,000 National Guard. By the end of the day, over 6,000 had been arrested, the largest mass arrest in U.S. history.
Reporters fanned out, from the Pentagon to the Mall, recording multiple perspectives of the events as they happened. I directed the program that first day, and we hustled to edit the multitude of voices into a cohesive documentary for the 5:00 ET start time.
What followed was an extraordinary 24-minute, sound portrait of the events as they happened, with the voices of protesters, police and office workers above the sirens and chopping of helicopters. Yes, there were flaws, and yet it stands as probably the best sound record of that historic day.
It also was a strong statement of the intention of NPR to get out of the studio, to use sound to effectively tell stories.
Bill Siemering is Prez of Developing Radio Partners, NPR’s first Program Director, and author of their original 1971 mission statement National Public Radio: Purposes. You can hear that seminal DC Demonstrations report at NPR and in our HV hour of Protest. The piece still stands as both a valuable historical document and an example of what radio news can be.
“Today in the nation’s capital, it is a crime to be young and have long hair…”
—Jeff Kamen, NPR Reporter