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Civil Defense plans in Ithaca

Wednesday, September 12, 1951

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Leonard introduces the 34th program in civil defense broadcast over the civil defense network, linking "virtually every radio station in New York state." "Your chances of surviving an atomic attack are pretty good -- if you've had civil defense training. But what happens then?"


A unnamed reporter plays for the audience the sounds of Ithaca. A dramatization of a New York City family visiting Ithaca to learn about their civil defense plan. What would happen if they were evacuated from New York City to Ithaca? They drive around the city and universities.


Leonard concludes the program. "The basic purpose of this series is to encourage you to think about your own plan for survival." "Civil defense is common sense."


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 71574
Municipal archives id: LT1842

Hosted by:

Bill Leonard

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About Plan For Survival

"Maybe you, maybe me.  Death and destruction ... Panic in the streets ..." Not a program for pre-bedtime listening, these recordings examine the impossibility of sufficiently preparing for nuclear winter.

With surprisingly calm moderators, the Plan for Survival series (1950-1951) goes beyond the usual "duck and cover" advisement and into the details of an A-bomb attack, fallout shelters, the Soviet threat, first aid, radiation sickness, and food and water supplies following a nuclear attack. Guests include civilians recounting their survival experiences in wartime, like the missile blitzes in England.

The show was transcribed for the Civil Defense Network, which "linked virtually every radio station in New York State and operates entirely by air. It can function even if regular radio lines are destroyed." Bill Leonard hosts with expert panelists, and most programs consist of a balance of speculation and civil information for New York State in general and New York City in particular.  Intended to be a public service announcement for a new nuclear age, the record of these programs now serves to add perspective to 21st century fears —from suffocating due to sinus congestion to bags left in the subway. It's clear -- death comes from above.

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