Historian Jerry Wallace tells the story of a President, conservative in nature, who eagerly and fully embraced radio, the cutting-edge medium of his day, and went on to become our first radio President. Thanks to radio, President Coolidge was able to communicate directly with millions more of his fellow countrymen than any of his predecessors. We learn from Wallace that "Silent Cal" was a most successful radio communicator and skillful pioneer in that medium. At the start of his presidency in August 1923, radio was in its infancy, with his predecessor, Warren G. Harding, having given the first presidential address over the airwaves in the spring of 1922. By Coolidge's departure from office in March of 1929, the radio industry had matured with radio networks and regular programming in place.
Calvin Coolidge was more than a pioneer in radio--he excelled at using it, and he knew it. He had an expert from a local radio station to teach him "radio manners" and he worked at his speaking style and voice pitch. He became a radio personality. The radio enabled President Coolidge to speak directly to the American people, bypassing Congress and the newspapers, and he made the most it. Graham McNamee, one of the great radio announcers of the 1920's, praised him for his radio presence. In this, Coolidge was an exception. Many of his contemporaries, with their flamboyant 19th Century oratory, came across badly over the air.