March 12, 1933: Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his first “fireside chat”.
In the first of thirty such broadcasts, Roosevelt addressed the “bank crisis”, and in it, he explained his reasoning behind the three-day “banking holiday”, which was initiated on March 6. His broadcast began with the simple words: “I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking.” This sort of down-to-earth, accessible style remained one of the most appealing parts of Roosevelt’s addresses, most of which were used for similar purposes - to explain New Deal legislation, to acknowledge the state of the ailing economy, and later, to explain wartime policy. The term “fireside chat” was apparently termed by Harry Butcher, a CBS reporter, in May of 1933, and it was immediately adopted by the press, as well as by the people.
Since 1982, all U.S. presidents have adopted FDR’s tradition of delivering regular radio addresses.
(pictured) Roosevelt delivers one of his last fireside chats - June 5, 1944.