His warm and entertaining voice needed only amplification, and radio provided just that.
In a time when World War I and the Great Depression dominated the national scene, Will Rogers’ down-home charm and incredible insight explained the phenomena and exposed the foibles. Good event or bad, Will delivered a timely message, jestful appraisal or jocular warning.
Will performed his first radio broadcast in Pittsburgh in 1922 on station KDKA when the medium was in its infancy. That broadcast signal was picked up only by crystal sets and earphones, the forerunners of radios with loudspeakers.
Will Rogers continued to appear on radio through the 1920s and made his first regularly scheduled broadcasts in the spring of 1930 for the pharmaceutical firm E. R. Squibb & Sons. His weekly Sunday evening show, The Gulf Headliners, ranked by 1935 among the top fifteen radio programs in the country.
In concert with ideas he was conveying in newspaper columns, movies and magazine articles, Will’s radio addresses were the principal opinion molders during the first half of the 1930s.