Reaching the People
FDR forged a powerful bond with Americans by communicating with them in ways no previous president had.
His freewheeling press conferences, eventually totaling almost 1,000, attracted attention. But Roosevelt's greatest communication tool was radio.
This new invention revolutionized politics during the 1920s and 1930s. For the first time, millions could hear the live voices of national leaders. FDR was a master of radio, using it to bypass the press and speak directly to his fellow citizens.
Days after entering office, he began an innovative series of radio addresses that reporters labeled "Fireside Chats." He did not orate, as some other politicians did when confronted by a microphone. Instead, he spoke calmly, conversationally, as if he were actually sitting in his listener's living room. Thousands responded with letters. White House mail jumped from 5,000 letters a week to 50,000.