Weekly Radio Address of the President of the United States
The Weekly Address of the President of the United States (also known as the Weekly Radio Address or Your Weekly Address) is the weekly discussion of current events in the United States by the President. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to deliver such radio addresses. Ronald Reagan revived the practice of delivering a weekly Saturday radio broadcast in 1982, and his successors have all continued the practice.
As the Internet became mainstream, the weekly address was made available on other media. George W. Bush introduced an audio podcast feed and Barack Obama introduced a weekly video address during his presidential transition period.
Franklin D. Roosevelt first used what would become known as fireside chats in 1929 as Governor of New York. His third gubernatorial address—April 3, 1929, on WGY radio—is cited by Roosevelt biographer Frank Freidel as being the first fireside chat. As president he continued the tradition, which he called his fireside chats. The success of these presidential addresses encouraged their continuation by future presidents.
The practice of regularly scheduled addresses began in 1982 when President Ronald Reagan started delivering a radio broadcast every Saturday. Conservative journalist William A. Rusher, who publicly urged Reagan to begin the series of broadcasts, explicitly referred to the "fireside chats" and compared Reagan's communications skills to those of Roosevelt. During a sound check prior to the radio address in August 1984, Reagan made the following gaffe as a way to test the microphone: "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."
George H. W. Bush did not participate in the weekly radio address during his term, while Bill Clinton did so, often going over ten minutes with some speeches early in his term. George W. Bush began to have his addresses posted as an audio podcast once that technology became popular.
Barack Obama used YouTube for regular video addresses as President-elect and since his inauguration the weekly addresses have continued on the White House website, the official White House YouTube channel, and networks such as C-SPAN, with the 24-hour cable news channels and network morning shows usually airing the full address only if the topic involves a breaking news event; short summaries of the address and the talking points within are otherwise edited and presented within regular news reports throughout each Saturday.
It has long become customary for the President's Weekly Radio Address to be followed by a response from the opposition party. This response is not limited to only responding by the subject of the president's address, but may address other topics of political or social interest, a tribute to a figure who has died in the last week, a general patriotic message on holiday weekends, or other concerns working through the Senate or House which have not yet been addressed by the executive branch.
A common complaint about the President's Weekly Radio Address is that only a few radio stations (mainly public radio and all-news radio outlets, a format very rare outside of major metropolitan areas) cover the very short broadcasts, they are not advertised publicly, and very few Americans are able to find address coverage on their local radio dial; Saturday mornings usually have brokered or paid programming carried on most commercial radio stations.
- Weekly Republican Address, the current opposition response
- Oval Office Address
- State of the Union address
- "Reagan signs off with 331st weekly radio address". Deseret News. Associated Press. 1989-01-15. p. A3. Retrieved 2010-03-12.
- Burns, James MacGregor (1996). Roosevelt : the lion and the fox. New York, NY: Smithmark. p. 118. ISBN 978-0831756116.
- Storm, Geoffrey (Spring 2007). "Roosevelt and WGY: The Origins of the Fireside Chats". New York History: Quarterly Journal of the New York State Historical Association (New York State Historical Association) 88 (2): 183–85 (177–197). ISSN 0146-437X. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- "Reagan signs off with 331st weekly radio address". Deseret News. Associated Press. 1989-01-15. p. A3. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
- "Remembering President Reagan For His Humor-A Classic Radio Gaffe". About, Inc. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- Viser, Matt (7 July 2014). "Obama holds to weekly radio tradition". Boston Globe. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
- President Obama's Weekly Video Address from the White House website
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