October 4th, 1957. Forty-seven years ago today, the Soviet Union successfully launched the world’s first artificial satellite. Sputnik was only about the size of a basketball, weighed just 183 pounds, took 98 minutes to orbit the earth, and only stayed in orbit for three months—but the Soviet success stunned the West and while it lasted, Sputnik’s eerie radio signal was a constant reminder the United States trailed in the space race.
It didn’t take long for the U.S. to surpass the Soviets in space. Thousands of satellites have followed Sputnik including the two by which you hear XM Radio. They are named Rock and Roll and sometimes they sound like this:
(XM logo #10)
Today, XM Public Radio, Channel 133, has a launch of its own. The first Bob Edwards Show begins…now.
So many things to say, on this fifteenth anniversary of the very first aired Bob Edwards Show. I remember waiting breathlessly for 8:00am EDT, having purchased my radio and subscription a month early so I could begin listening to XM Public Radio its first day, but all of it leading up to Bob Edwards coming back to my weekdays.
I listened to Bob on weekday mornings for decades. I listened when I had a “day job,” he was my companion throughout the morning when I began to work at home, listening to KUOW radio which aired Morning Edition for six hours, until noon eastern. I once joked to Bob that my daughter knew his voice better than mine, and she probably liked it more since he had never said “no” to her.
Then NPR did the unthinkable, and removed him as the host of the program he made famous. And my mornings were…not right. Heaven help me, no one screws with my mornings. I was furious. I stopped listening to NPR, and truthfully haven’t returned even now.
Then Bob announced (ok, NPR announced, as part of the continuing clown show surrounding Bob’s removal) that he was moving to XM Satellite Radio to begin a new show there. So first I had to figure out what the heck XM was, then I had to figure out where to buy a special radio, then I had to pay them a monthly fee, then…I got to listen to Bob every weekday, and my mornings finally made sense again.
I was so excited, I recorded that first show so I could savor it again. Walter Cronkite, in this program, suggests to Bob that he should do another one, and he did; I figured Uncle Walter was also telling me I should record another one, so I did. And another. And another…until, eleven years later, I had recorded them all. (Ok, ok, I’ll admit there were a few kerfuffles over the years, which I filled in with either the on-demand online channel or Audible. But a lot fewer than you’d expect for eleven years, and yes, I even recorded the “Best of Bob” repeats. And I made a digital copy from XM Online of the weekend marathon of rerun shows. Truly, as I’ve said more than once; “Biggest Fan,” “Cyberstalker,” it’s a fine line…) It’s mostly those recordings I made over the years that you hear here on the blog…a collection that is almost certainly the only complete archive of the program outside of SiriusXM’s servers. All because I recorded that first show.
When the show was finally cancelled, I was invited to the studios to pick up the material the remaining staff, Bob and his final executive producer Chad Campbell, were instructed to dispose of…eleven years of scripts…recordings both DAT and CDs, even a few minidisks…and other assorted pieces of history, all targeted to the dumpster by the corporation, and slightly detoured to my waiting car.
What you can at last enjoy is one of those salvaged treasures. On a DAT (Digital Audio Tape) buried in two large boxes of them, carefully labeled, later ignored, and suddenly in my basement, was a recording made in the studio of that first show – if you look at the video I posted last year, the DAT recorder is in the control room along the wall to the left of the console. The quality of this recording is…spectacular. With the possible exception of the few in the studio that day wearing headphones, no one heard this program with the clarity you will. That first recording I made that October morning means the world to me, but it is nothing compared to…this. Along with the other audio salvaged from the trash bin, this audio was lovingly ripped bit-by-bit directly from the DAT digitally, so there is no digital->analog->digital cycle involved. (I did, however, compress the audio from uncompressed WAV to 96kbps MP3 file for this download.)
So sit back, relax, and enjoy the very first broadcast Bob Edwards Show, in impeccable sound.
I suggest that, even if you don’t usually read the script/roadmap I include with these posted programs, you check this one out…note that even up to almost the last minute, the program was planning on running BBC World Service news at one minute past the hour. Both of the pilot shows recorded on the last two Fridays in September 2004 (yes, one day I will share those as well, I promise) contain a “clock” including a one-minute intro followed by five-minutes of BBC news, then an additional 30-seconds of XM promos following that before the show proper begins. The script for this first show was actually changed in Bob’s hand, scratching out, “follows world news from the BBC” and handwriting in, “begins now,” so the decision was apparently made very close to final air. This program might have been a completely different, and somewhat shorter, one.
Other things I’ve posted over the years dealing with October the Fourth episodes:
- Video from the very first program.
- Links regarding the first anniversary party.This leads down a rabbit hole of links, including my own recollections of this amazing night including photos I took, a link to video from this night, and a copy of the aired version.
- The script to the first anniversary show. (Not exactly sure why this is separate from everything else…)
- In 2010, the October Fourth episode highlighted an hour with David Broder.
And Bob, I’ll toast you and your many producers this evening with a few fingers of Maker’s Mark. Thanks for giving this to me…to all of us.