The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

30 June 2011

Complaints Meet Reagan's Radio Hall Of Fame Honor


Radio Hall Of Fame Inducts Former Pres

Did you really believe Ronald Reagan could win an award without someone crying foul?

Earlier today, the Radio Hall Of Fame named the late president and several other early broadcast pioneers as 2011 inductees.

From the Chicago-based organization's press release (as distributed by Premiere Radio Networks):


Ronald Reagan, Graham McNamee, H.V. Kaltenborn, and classic programs Gangbusters, Suspense, and The Great Gildersleeve to be recognized

The National Radio Hall of Fame (NRHOF) announced its Class of 2011 today that includes a who’s who of early radio pioneers ---as well as the only radio broadcaster ever to become President of the United States. The induction ceremony and national broadcast will take place on Saturday, November 5th in Chicago.

The 2011 inductees into America’s only National Radio Hall of Fame inductees are:

Ronald Reagan – The 40th president of the United States who was born in Tampico, Illinois and who began his storied career in broadcasting as an Iowa radio sportscaster where be once announced Chicago Cubs games for WOC/Davenport, Iowa and WHO/Des Moines, Iowa.

Graham McNamee – A sports casting legend, McNamee gained national prominence and was radio’s most recognized national personality in its inaugural decade.

H.V. Kaltenborn – The premier news commentator of radio’s first great era, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin native was on the air for more than 30 years. He was America’s first national radio commentator and was one of the first newsreaders to provide analysis and insight into current news stories.

WLS National Barn Dance – First broadcast in 1924, it was the first acclaimed country music show in radio history –a direct precursor of the Grand Ole Opry.

Because of the powerful clear-channel signal of WLS/Chicago, the program was heard throughout the Midwest and the South where its popularity launched many music careers and led to a music format that has dominated radio for over eight decades.

The Great Gildersleeve – One of radio’s earliest spin-off programs, the series was built around Throckmorton Philharmonic Gildersleeve, a bombastic character with a remarkable ensemble cast that was first introduced to radio audiences as a staple on the Fibber McGee and Molly show, also a Radio Hall of Fame inductee (1989).

Gangbusters - The iconic radio crime drama series that dramatized FBI cases and was produced in close association with Bureau director J. Edgar Hoover during the great American crime wave of the 1930s.

Suspense - One of the most compelling radio dramas of all time, this program from the Golden Age of Radio was subtitled "radio's outstanding theater of thrills" and focused on suspense, thriller-type scripts and featured the leading Hollywood actors of the era.

Extended biographies of the inductees as well as audio clips can be found at

The 2011 selections were made by the 27 members of the National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee, a diverse group of radio executives, historians, academics and civic leaders.

In making the announcement, Bruce DuMont, Chairman of the NRHOF Steering Committee, said “Many of the stars and shows that defined the medium in its infancy have been unfortunately overlooked in public balloting. This year, as we move into our new home, the Committee wanted to be sure to recognize the pioneers that time passed by but whose accomplishments must not be forgotten. The Radio Hall of Fame class of 2011 gives us a solid foundation upon which to build.”

So what's the beef with this year's class? Apparently, public voting was "suspended" for 2011 so the organization's board could directly induct some of radio's earliest voices without the usual ballot-stuffing antics designed to benefit contemporary performers (as in on-air campaigning).

Another gripe observed today: Howard Stern has yet to be admitted.

Rush Limbaugh, by the way, was inducted in 1993, Neal Boortz in 2009 and Art Bell in 2008.

At TimeOut Chicago, longtime broadcast reporter Robert Feder complained about the changes and used the occasion to take potshots:

Considering Reagan’s modest career in radio before he went on to Hollywood and politics, his induction is likely to generate controversy. This year marked the 100th anniversary of Reagan’s birth. He died in 2004.

During his presidency, his most memorable use of radio may have been just before a Saturday morning broadcast in August 1984 when Reagan joked during a microphone check: “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

But to those
who've studied Reagan's early years, we know that he had a great passion for broadcasting and fought hard to gain acceptance in the medium. He's the only radio announcer to later achieve the presidency.

For more on Reagan's broadcast years, see this collection of historical links and tidbits.

Let's get real: opposition is based on partisan politics, otherwise, Reagan most certainly deserves to be recognized by the radio industry for his early accomplishments.


  • I have a collection of ballgames and misc. recording Pres. Reagan did. not matter what your political stripe, if you are honest you have to admit, he had a warm, friendly personable presence on the air, and holds up 50 years plus after the fact.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 30 June, 2011 22:05  

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