Will Rogers on the Radio


In further celebration of Will Rogers’s birthday (see full appreciation here) we pause to admire his radio work. In addition to being a star of stage, screen and the printed word, Will Rogers was a star of radio from 1925 through 1935.

In 1933 he started The Good Gulf Show featuring “the famous alarm clock”. Rogers would set the clock, and when it rang, wherever he was in his presentation, he would stop talking. The fifteen minute show consisted of unedited live topical extemporization. Rogers was most effective during the Great Depression, when his warm, reassuring voice in the home had the same effect as Roosevelt’s. It made people feel better. During the 20s he had been popular because he was an oddity—a sort of throwback to the Wild West days. During the Depression he was popular because he symbolized the Common Man and he told the unvarnished truth about what was going on. His work was akin to that of Carl SandburgJohn Steinbeck and other chroniclers of the era.

Here he is on the topic of unemployment and — believe it or not — the distribution of wealth. 


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