Boake Carter

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Harold Thomas Henry Carter (15/28 September 1903,[1] 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.[1]

Carter worked at the Philadelphia Daily News as a journalist of no particular acclaim.[2] He entered broadcasting as a news commentator with WCAU in Philadelphia in 1930, initially as the announcer for a rugby game,[3] getting the job by default as he was the only person WCAU's director knew who was familiar with the sport. In 1931,[1] he became the narrator for Hearst-Metrotone newsreels.[2] He rose to fame as a broadcast journalist when he covered the Lindbergh kidnapping trial, beginning in 1932.[4] He continued to work for WCAU, with his broadcasts distributed through the CBS network.[2]

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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[2] With his removal, there was no longer any popular radio commentator who opposed Roosevelt's foreign policy.[7]

That year, Carter went on a speaking tour through the States. In 1939 he returned to radio with a thrice-weekly evening commentary on the Mutual Broadcasting System, adopting a pro-Roosevelt stance. Mutual gradually moved his broadcasts to less prominent time slots.[8]

In the early 1940s, Carter was drawn into a 'British Israelite' cult led by a Moses Guibbory.[9]

He was almost a forgotten figure when he died of a heart attack in 1944.[10] A messy fight between his three former wives followed over his estate.[11] Stewart Robb's "The Strange Death of Boake Carter", published in 1946, suggested Boake was murdered,[9] perhaps by Guibbory.[citation needed] In 1949, his final years were documented in a book, 'Thirty-three candles', by fellow cult adherent David Horowitz.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c David Holbrook Culbert. News for everyman: radio and foreign affairs in thirties America. pp. 35–38. 
  2. ^ a b c d Kathy M. Newman. Radio active: advertising and consumer activism, 1935-1947. pp. 85–92. 
  3. ^ Christopher H. Sterling, Michael C. Keith. Encyclopedia of radio. p. 589. 
  4. ^ "Loudspeaker". Time Magazine. 13 April 1936. Archived from the original on 31 May 2008. 
  5. ^ Elizabeth A. Fones-Wolf. Waves of opposition: labor and the struggle for democratic radio. p. 32. 
  6. ^ Susan J. Douglas. Listening in: radio and the American imagination. p. 173. 
  7. ^ Robert J. Brown. Manipulating The Ether: The Power Of Broadcast Radio In Thirties America. pp. 115–116. 
  8. ^ http://www.nbcnews.com/id/6243014/ns/msnbc-countdown_with_keith_olbermann/?#041015
  9. ^ a b c Harry Neigher (6 November 1949). "Riddle of Boake Carter Solved by Former Aide". Sunday Herald. p. 33. 
  10. ^ Fang, Irving E. "Boake Carter, Radio Commentator," The Journal of Popular Culture 12 (2), 341–346. doi:10.1111/j.0022-3840.1979.1202_341.x
  11. ^ "3 Ex-Wives Claiming $5,000 Carter Will". Toronto Daily Star (New York). BUP. 1 March 1945. p. 14. 

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