Kate Smith - medley

Sep 16, 2014, 09:05 PM

Radio fundraisers are commonplace, but try this one for size. In its time, the biggest ever.

During the dark days of War, America was selling its war bonds – a device to cut the amount of money in circulation, reduce inflation and fund the War. With the goal, accordingly, to persuade hard-up Americans to part with yet more cash, media and celebrity were called upon to sway the public mood.

A number of ads and programmes were devised, but few as powerful as the initiative from singer and star, Kate Smith, later dubbed ‘the First Lady of Radio’.

Kate’s keynote song was Irving Berlin’s ‘God Bless America’; and she entertained for over five decades both in song and as host in a variety of radio programmes. In the States on radio, she was simply huge.

Her most powerful fundraising effort was staged on the CBS Radio network in September 1940, when she aired repeated appeals over 16 hours. With a much-loved performer using the power of radio, manipulating the techniques of tension, endorsement and repetition, alongside the identification of the reasons which would best chime with Americans, it’s little wonder this appeal was promptly researched extensively and became a text book case study.

Here she is, conveying momentous news, just after a sponsor announcement and then singing her signature song.

Kate died on June 17th 1986.