AMID THE VISUAL images of television specials and documentaries on the 50th anniversary of D-Day, its easy to forget that radio - not the infant tube - delivered the news of that fateful day to most Americans.
There were only the staticky dispatches of Edward R. Murrow and other correspondents describing the event in powerful words for people on the home front who huddled around radios in living rooms, barbershops and other gathering places."I remember what a big explosion of stuff we were doing. We were broadcasting day and night," said Carl de Seuze, retired announcer for WBZ Radio in Boston.
De Seuze remembers the commotion in the old WBZ studios that day as word of the invasion came in over wire service Teletypes and other sources.
In his book "Now The News, The Story of Broadcast Journalism," Edward Bliss Jr. wrote about the frenzy of activity in radio newsrooms around the country that followed an Associated Press bulletin, quoting the German News Agency Transocean as saying the Allied invasion had begun.
CBS Radio broke into an early morning music program with the bulletin, cautioning listeners that it had not yet been confirmed by the Allies.
A few hours later, following official confirmation of the landing, Bliss quotes Robert St. John of NBC as telling listeners: "Men and women of the United States, this is a momentous hour in world history. This is the invasion of Hitlers Europe, the zero hour."
Bliss, a former editor at CBS News, is a professor emeritus at American University in Washington.
The first eyewitness report, by Wright Bryan of Atlantas WSB, was broadcast by all the major radio networks. It described Bryan's experience flying aboard a C-47 from which some of the first paratroopers had jumped into France.
Marilyn Matelski, a professor of communications at Boston College who writes frequently about radio, said nearly twice as many people in that era called radio - and not newspapers - their primary source of information about the war.
It was a far cry from todays graphic television images of bloodshed on battlefields from Vietnam to Rwanda.
"There's no question that if people had seen the kind of carnage and the kind of bloodletting that had gone on, there wouldn't have been that seeming feeling of overwhelming victory," Matelski said.