1930s, American History Museum
For the first time, a president seemed to speak to Americans one-on-one
In 30 fireside chats—brief, plain-spoken radio addresses from the White House—President Roosevelt pioneered the use of a new medium to reassure the nation during the Great Depression. “I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking....I want to tell you what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be,” he said in his first broadcast, March 12, 1933. His audience was vast: 90 percent of American households owned a radio.