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Raymond Gram Swing 77th Birthday Celebration

Wednesday, March 25, 1964

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

John Gunther acts as master of ceremonies at the 77th birthday celebration of journalist Raymond Gram Swing. He introduces a series of speakers who give short talks in honor of Swing. The occasion also marks the publication of Swing's book "Good Evening!"

Fred Friendly, president of CBS, speaks first in Swing's honor. He notes that Swing was the first professional in electronic journalism. He states that everyone in the room owes something to Swing, a trailblazer in journalism.

Quincy Howe speaks about Swing's good judgment as a journalist - one who didn't need an editor.

Henry Loomis, head of Voice of America, discusses the challenges and success of radio. He discusses how Swing made an effort to make his broadcasts as relevant to someone in a village in India as to a Communist as to the American audience. He writes editorials as they were meant to be written.

John Gunther then announces a birthday surprise: a series of birthday greetings by a variety of notable people recorded by CBS. Includes messages from: Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Dame Rebecca West, New York Senator Jacob K. Javits, former Prime Minister Lord Clement Attlee, House Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, William Clark (Baron Clark of Kempston), Senator Hubert Humphrey, British journalist Geoffrey Crowther, Joe Harsh, Lord John Reith, Merrill Miller, and Frank McGee.

Many of the British speakers discuss how Swing was responsible for keeping them aware of the American views of the war with Germany before the US became an allied forces.

Jospeh Newman, of the New York Herald Tribune presents Swing with a transfer of the taped tribute compilation.

Many other notable figures pay tribute to Swing and his influence in the field of journalism including Walter Lippman. Many letters and telegrams are read on behalf of people who could not attend the event.

Raymond Gram Swing closes the evening with a graciously delivered speech. He speaks of his career and of the task of the "communicators" to keep the world safe from ourselves (related specifically to war and nuclear armament).


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 70316
Municipal archives id: T194

Contributors:

Clement Attlee, William Clark, Geoffrey Crowther, Fred W. Friendly, John Gunther, Quincy Howe, Hubert Humphrey, Jacob K. Javits, William Jay Lippman, H. Loomis, Mike Mansfield, Frank McGee, Edward P. Morgan, Joseph Newman, John Charles Walsham Reith Reith, Dean Rusk, Howard K. Smith and Rebecca West

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About Overseas Press Club

Comprised of both speeches and question-answer sessions, this news program brings together foreign correspondents and public figures from culture and politics.

The Overseas Press Club (1940-1967) contains voices from the past that help us understand their time and place in history. What sets these talks apart from others like them is the presence of a live audience of foreign correspondents — reporters with international perspectives and questions. The resulting sessions have a distinctly different dynamic than would those with an audience of American journalists of the period.

Speakers include the German writer Günter Grass talking about his fascination with American prize fighters; a fiery young LeRoi Jones (later known as Amiri Baraka) telling his audience "where it’s at with Mr. Charlie"; James Farmer on the civil rights movement and where it should be going; David Halberstam on the trials of covering the war in Vietnam; Josephine Baker on the focus of her later years, her adopted children; and Herman Kahn on being pushed to the nuclear edge.  Other notable speakers include the actor Alec Guinness, Richard Nixon, and a gaggle of early female pilots competing in the air race known as the Angel Derby. 

With presentations ranging from rambunctious and spirited to contentious and political, this collection provides invaluable access to the language and nomenclature of America's burgeoning global culture.

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