- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2001

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) The Associated Press flash moved across the news wire at 2:22 p.m. EDT on December 7, 1941: "White House says Japs bomb Pearl Harbor."
Most radio stations didn't interrupt their programming. In New York, a WOR broadcaster read the news at 2:25 p.m. and then returned to the Giants game. Others broke in with occasional bulletins.
"It was pretty much business as usual. I was surprised," said Gary Yoggy, a history professor who helped radio buffs relive coverage of the bombing at an old-time radio convention that ended on Sunday.
Unlike the commercial-free, 24-hour programming that dominated radio and television for days after September 11, the media's coverage of the event most often compared to the recent terrorist attacks was far less complete and accurate, historians say.
CBS would interrupt its coverage throughout the day with bulletins, although it did not, as was widely believed, break into a New York Philharmonic broadcast to announce the bombing. Only later did CBS splice broadcaster John Daly's "We interrupt this program" introduction from his 1945 announcement of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's death into a tape of Mr. Daly's December 7 broadcast, Mr. Yoggy said.
One network did a one-hour radio special later in the day, with reports from Hawaiian station KGU on the ground, the most comprehensive radio coverage of the event that would begin U.S. involvement in World War II, historians said.
By contrast, after the September 11 attacks, the CBS television network went 93 consecutive hours covering the disaster without a commercial break, while its all-news radio station went days without commercials, CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said.
Tom Lewis, a Skidmore College professor who wrote "Empire of the Air," a history of radio, said television and other technology have brought an immediacy to coverage today that did not exist in 1941.
"Pearl Harbor was, after all, 3,000 miles out into the Pacific. That is a nanosecond away today via satellite," Mr. Lewis said. "But it was not in that time."
"Instead of, today, watching the Twin Towers fall as we had to do just a few weeks ago before our eyes, we learned about these things not in real time but in almost historical time" in 1941, he said.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was still life-changing for those who experienced it, Mr. Lewis said, and was made larger by Roosevelt's speech a day later referring to the "date which will live in infamy." But Americans absorbed the events with their families at home, in cars or in football stadiums, not by joining as a country to watch and hear the events as they occurred.

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