The sudden and tragic assassination of U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on Friday, November 22, 1963, was a vicious blow to the heart of America, and to much of the world as well. As you would expect from such a big news story, there was massive media coverage of the events in Dallas and Washington.
For four solid days (November 22nd to November 25th, 1963), television, radio, and the print media were saturated with news surrounding JFK's murder, as well as assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's arrest and subsequent death at the hands of nightclub owner Jack Ruby, President Kennedy's funeral, and many related side stories about JFK, new President Lyndon Johnson, and other topics.
This 49-minute program, which bears the full title of "THE ASSASSINATION OF JOHN F. KENNEDY: FOUR DAYS THAT SHOCKED THE WORLD: NOV. 22-25TH, 1963", was originally marketed by Colpix Records shortly after JFK's death. It was re-released on Audio CD in 1993 by RPM Records of London, England.
Taken from more than 85 hours of original audio material, "Four Days That Shocked The World" features many of the major radio highlights from that sad four-day weekend. Reid Collins of WNEW Radio News serves as narrator. The program can be heard in its entirety via the embedded video player above.
You get a true sense of what it was like to be in Dallas just after the shots were fired at the President's motorcade in Dealey Plaza. Many on-the-scene and on-the-spot audio news clips are included from pertinent locations in Dallas and Washington as the dark weekend progresses. It's quite literally history in the making.
Many of these November 1963 audio reports are fairly rare, including one particularly interesting and ironic clip that takes place in the basement of the Dallas Police Department on Sunday morning, November 24th at 11:21 AM -- that being the riveting radio account of Lee Harvey Oswald's killing as reported by WNEW's Ike Pappas.
After Oswald is shot dead by Jack Ruby, Pappas continues with radio coverage from the jail basement and quickly interviews a few eyewitnesses to the shooting. It's almost immediately revealed (practically before Oswald has cleared the basement's driveway via ambulance) that Jack Ruby was, in fact, the man who plugged Oswald.
And, by coincidence, on-the-spot reporter Pappas just happened to have a business card of Ruby's in his pocket at the time Ruby shot his prey. It's an amazing audio clip, with Pappas exclaiming excitedly on the air: "He [Ruby] runs the Carousel Club?! He handed me that card the other day. He was in the headquarters here. ... I know him. ... I got a card from him the other day."
The entire 5-minute Ike Pappas radio clip can be heard HERE.
Also included on this Compact Disc is the rare Joe Meek JFK tribute record, "The Kennedy March", which is the last of 10 tracks on this disc. Meek released this single in early December 1963, just weeks after JFK was killed. And, according to the liner notes, it is being re-issued for the very first time on this CD.
The liner notes included in this CD package are quite extensive and collectible in nature. There are some lengthy 1993 text notes by Stephen Fellows, a detailed listing of what can be heard on the disc, and a good-looking Kennedy 5-cent postage stamp reproduction, with simulated Dallas postmark, stamped at the exact moment of JFK's shooting at 12:30 PM, Nov. 22, 1963 (which serves as the front cover of the CD).
In addition, on the opposite side of the liner notes' insert page can be found a unique newspaper front-page reproduction (re-print) from "The New York Herald Tribune" (dated November 23-24, 1963; "European Edition"). This newspaper re-print is rather interesting reading, with every page-one article, not surprisingly, focusing on the murder of the President.
Audio quality is very, very good on this CD. Considering the age of these 1963 recordings, you couldn't ask for better quality sound here. Very little old-time radio "crackle" can be heard at all on these audio clips. Everybody sounds clear as a bell.
Here's a Track List for this Compact Disc:
1.) President Kennedy's breakfast speech in Fort Worth. (Length of track = 1:43)
2.) JFK's arrival at Love Field. (4:55)
3.) Mobile radio reports (KBOX) -- "Something has happened in the motorcade route!" This track includes an interview with eyewitness Charles Brehm. (8:48)
4.) President Kennedy's death is officially announced. (1:07)
5.) Interview with ambulance driver; Comments by UPI's Merriman Smith; Swearing-in of new President Lyndon Johnson; LBJ's short speech at Andrews AFB. (4:40)
6.) Police account of Lee Harvey Oswald's arrest; Comments by Oswald himself ("I didn't shoot anybody, no sir!"). (3:24)
7.) Ike Pappas of WNEW-New York reports on shooting of Oswald in Dallas Police basement; crystal-clear account of Pappas' question to Oswald ("Do you have anything to say in your defense?"), followed an instant later by a gunshot and a very audible groan from Oswald as he falls dead on the basement floor. This "Ike Pappas perspective" is a rare audio clip that's not featured on very many programs covering the JFK Assassination. Fascinating stuff here. .... "Holy mackerel, Oswald has been shot! There's mass confusion...!" (6:34)
8.) President Kennedy's casket taken from White House to Capitol Rotunda on November 24; Excerpts of eulogies by Chief Justice Earl Warren and Senator Mike Mansfield. (6:54)
9.) Coverage of JFK's State Funeral on Monday, November 25th, 1963. (8:02)
10.) "The Kennedy March", by British record producer Joe Meek. (2:33)
Total Run Time: 49:09.
The original LP recording of "Four Days That Shocked The World" even garnered the attention of the FBI during the Warren Commission's 1964 investigation into President Kennedy's assassination. (See pages 11-17 of THIS WARREN COMMISSION DOCUMENT for more information.)
The FBI investigators were inquiring as to whether any of the footage from Dallas radio stations KLIF, KBOX, and WFAA that is included on the LP recording might contain the sounds of the gunshots that were fired in Dealey Plaza. None of the shots were recorded, however.
This audio compilation includes the complete KBOX "re-created" simulation of the assassination aftermath and the frenzied drive to Parkland Hospital. From information I have gathered over the years, including a few e-mail conversations that I had with former KRLD reporter Bob Huffaker, apparently the majority of the KBOX material was re-created in a studio several days after the assassination, instead of being broadcast live on 11/22/63.
One of the KBOX reporters who is heard in the simulated coverage, Sam Pate, was interviewed by the FBI on March 10, 1964. The brief FBI report regarding that interview can be found HERE.
A Final Word:
David Von Pein