The question box

Wednesday, April 04, 1951

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

11th program in the series.

Bill Leonard and Martin Cayden (?), Technical Specialist for the New York State Commission for Civil Defense, answer questions pertaining to the New York State civil defense plan: why does the program come on so late?, evacuation plans for the state (this is not a primary purpose of civil defense), a long-range program for providing food if the ground becomes contaminated, canning bees, the likelihood that an attack is not imminent, this program "engenders fear."

The second segment concerns listener questions for New York City's plan for civil defense. Leonard and Mrs. Austin Tobin (?), of the New York City Civil Defense Organization, answer questions: impact of an attack on those people who rely on the government for food and shelter already, what people who do not have access to a basement should do in the event of an attack, the responsibility for caring for the infirm will rest with the air wardens, opportunities for girls to work as messengers, dealing with traffic, id tags for children, classes for first aid, where to find literature for preparing for an attack.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 71836
Municipal archives id: LT1814

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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