American RadioWorks |
(Photos: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library)

The First Family of Radio

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, he and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt both used the new medium of radio to reach into American homes like never before. They rallied the nation to combat the Great Depression and fight fascism. The Roosevelts forged an uncommonly personal relationship with the people. This documentary explores how FDR and ER's use of radio revolutionized the way Americans relate to the White House and its occupants.

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American RadioWorks |
(Photos: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library)

The First Family of Radio

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, he and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt both used the new medium of radio to reach into American homes like never before. They rallied the nation to combat the Great Depression and fight fascism. The Roosevelts forged an uncommonly personal relationship with the people. This documentary explores how FDR and ER's use of radio revolutionized the way Americans relate to the White House and its occupants.

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  • 11.10.14

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    President Franklin D. Roosevelt was a radio natural. He spoke in a confident, informal way, using simple words and phrases that were easy to grasp.
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Adoption stories


Heather Shirey
Faribault, MN

Birth Country: CN
Decade of adoption: 2000 or later

Naomi arrived in Guangzhou late in the evening, tired and uncomfortable. She was a nine-month old dressed in a tiny little outfit made for a newborn baby. She was put in the arms of her new parents. She didn't cry, and she didn't look back at the women who brought her to Guangzhou. Had they been her caregivers for months? Did she know them well?

A month ago, we woke up in Beijing. We tried to make conversation and think about other things on the long flight. We checked into our hotel room and laughed and cried over the crib in the room. It didn't seem possible. We packed our diaper bag and got on a bus, knowing that we would be returning with a baby in our arms. We celebrated and took pictures as we watched three new families being formed. We wept and worried when we heard three babies, ours included, had not arrived. We waited and waited and wondered and stewed. We bought diapers and formula. We had a dark, seething dinner and feared that something had gone wrong. We watched the news on TV and tried to focus on disaster in the world as a distraction. We passed through the longest six hours in history. We went to another room and our baby was placed in our arms. We recognized her the moment we saw her. It was the most natural moment in the world and we knew we would never let her go.

We carried a quiet baby to our room. She cried a little as we struggled to take off that tiny dress. We felt like idiots for not being able to undress our baby without making her cry. We thought about cutting it off, or perhaps just leaving her in it until the morning in order to spare her the trauma caused by our ineptitude. Finally, we undressed her and redressed her in striped pajamas with a duck on the pocket. Her feet were too long and her toes got scrunched up. She was very quiet. We waited for her to make a sound. We gave her a stuffed bunny, which she rejected. We didn't know yet that she'd have been happier with a terry cloth washcloth. She fell asleep on her baba's chest. It was 10:00. We laid in bed and smiled. We didn't sleep all night and stayed busy checking every few minutes to make sure she was still okay. When she cried at five in the morning, I said it was the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard.

Today we've been with Naomi for one month. She says "uh-oh" all day long, sometimes even in the right context. She practices walking and groves to her favorite music, a Swahili children's song. She eats bananas and oatmeal and beans and carrots and yogurt and everything we give her. She has two new teeth and bites my finger all the time to show me. She is shy of strangers, but warms up and reveals herself as an entertainer. She shows us new things she discovers, her eyes alive with excitement. She loves people who wear glasses. She sings baby songs and babbles all of the time. She naps like a cat, awakening at the tiniest sound, afraid to miss out on anything.

A month ago, Naomi woke surrounded by the sounds of China. The subtle tones of the language filled her ears. The people she saw had faces that looked more like hers. Now she is in Minnesota, a land of Scandanavian giants. We speak English almost all of the time with her, reading the occasional book in Czech, Portuguese or Mandarin. There are things she has lost even as she has gained her new family.



Back to Adoption Stories


American RadioWorks |
(Photos: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library)

The First Family of Radio

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, he and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt both used the new medium of radio to reach into American homes like never before. They rallied the nation to combat the Great Depression and fight fascism. The Roosevelts forged an uncommonly personal relationship with the people. This documentary explores how FDR and ER's use of radio revolutionized the way Americans relate to the White House and its occupants.

Recent Posts

  • 11.17.14

    The Utility of a PhD

    Humanities professors at colleges and universities are re-thinking what it means to offer a PhD. The old model is proving unsustainable. It takes an average nine years to get a doctorate, but less than 60 percent of PhDs are finding tenure-track teaching jobs. This week, we look at a new report recommending academics view doctoral programs in a new light.
  • 11.10.14

    Radio: FDR’s ‘Natural Gift’

    President Franklin D. Roosevelt was a radio natural. He spoke in a confident, informal way, using simple words and phrases that were easy to grasp.
  • 11.12.14

    The Roosevelts as a political team

    Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt were not the first White House couple to act as political partners, but they were the first to do so in such a public fashion.
  • 11.10.14

    Radio: The Internet of the 1930s

    Some predicted radio would be a powerful force for democratizing information and spreading knowledge to a vast population previously separated by geography or income. But the new technology also raised anxieties.