The voice of PHILCO RADIO

These days we're used to loud mouths spouting what is supposed to be news. Most often it isn't news because they're just speculating on what might happen or what they'd like to see happen. Real news is harder to find. Too much hot air filling the atmosphere from the current crop of media clowns. Think it's something new?

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I give you Boake Carter for Philco radios. It will all feel rather familiar.
Harold Thomas Henry Carter (15/28 September 1903, Baku – 16 November 1944, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California), aka Boake Carter, was an American national news commentator in the 1930s and early 1940s. He was born in Baku, Russian Empire (now the capital of Azerbaijan), where his father, Thomas Carter, worked for a British oil company. Carter would later claim his father had been in the British Consular Service. Carter grew up in the United Kingdom, and enlisted in the Royal Air Force at the age of fifteen, serving with the RAF's Coast Patrol for eighteen months. He attended Tonbridge School from 1918 to 1921, and would later claim to have attended Christ's College in Cambridge. He arrived in the United States on September 25, 1921, after his father was assigned to Mexico.

Carter worked at the Philadelphia Daily News as a journalist of no particular acclaim.He entered broadcasting as a news commentator with WCAU in Philadelphia in 1930, initially as the announcer for a rugby game, getting the job by default as he was the only person WCAU's director knew who was familiar with the sport. In 1931, he became the narrator for Hearst-Metrotone newsreels. He rose to fame as a broadcast journalist when he covered the Lindbergh kidnapping trial, beginning in 1932. He continued to work for WCAU, with his broadcasts distributed through the CBS network.

After achieving fame, he was a familiar radio voice, but his commentaries were controversial, notably his criticisms of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and the powerful Congress of Industrial Organizations. Carter was an accomplished salesman for the sponsor of his program from 1933-1938, Philco Radios, blending his reporting and commentary with plugs for the company's sets. In 1936, he had more listeners than any other radio commentator. He published several books in the 1930s, and began writing a widely syndicated column in 1937. But by 1937, the Roosevelt White House already had three federal agencies investigating him. In 1938, under pressure from Roosevelt's allies, he lost his WCAU job, was barred from CBS, and lost his General Foods sponsorship that had replaced Philco. With his removal, there was no longer any popular radio commentator who opposed Roosevelt's foreign policy.

That year, Carter went on a speaking tour through the States. He subsequently continued to work in broadcasting where he could.

In the early 1940s, Carter was drawn into a 'British Israelite' cult led by a Moses Guibbory.

He was almost a forgotten figure when he died of a heart attack in 1944. A messy fight between his three former wives followed over his estate. Stewart Robb's "The Strange Death of Boake Carter," published in 1946, suggested Boake was murdered, perhaps by Guibbory. In 1949, his final years were documented in a book, "Thirty-three candles," by fellow cult adherent David Horowitz. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)


  1. High Fidelity was very big in radio in 1936-37. Why those standards weren't maintained thereafter is a bit of a mystery---until one realizes there was no way to network broadcast high fidelity at the time. A high fidelity broadcast could only originate from the station studio it was created in---simultaneous rebroadcast to other network stations required the use of telephone lines---or, very rarely, short wave transmission, greatly impairing the audio quality. The demands of television after the war would improve the telephone network with coaxial cable, but television would eclipse any drive for nationwide high fidelity for years to come.

    1. That's interesting to know because I always think of broadcasting and recordings from then to be of such poor quality. And I was surprised to see that FM existed so long ago. I only remember being aware of it really taking off in the '60s, specifically with underground FM stations out of San Francisco. Thanks for the info!