The result, according to economic historian William L.
Silber, was a "remarkable turnaround in the public's confidence ...
"The blight hadn't yet carried off the elms, and under them drivers had pulled over, parking bumper to bumper, and turned on their radios to hear Roosevelt.
They had rolled down the windows and opened the car doors.
"I want to explain to the people something about geography—what our problem is and what the overall strategy of the war has to be. If they understand the problem and what we are driving at, I am sure that they can take any kind of bad news right on the chin." Sales of new maps and atlases were unprecedented, while many people retrieved old commercial maps from storage and pinned them up on their walls.
Novelist Saul Bellow recalled hearing a fireside chat while walking in Chicago one summer evening.
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When he realized that a slight whistle was audible on the air due to a separation between his two front lower teeth, FDR had a removable bridge made.
The use of radio for direct appeals was perhaps the most important of FDR's innovations in political communication.
Roosevelt's opponents had control of most newspapers in the 1930s and press reports were under their control and involved their editorial commentary.
The contemporary press confirms that the public recognized the implicit guarantee and, as a result, believed that the reopened banks would be safe, as the President explained in his first Fireside Chat." Within two weeks people returned more than half of the cash they had been hoarding, and the first stock-trading day after the bank holiday marked the largest-ever one-day percentage price increase.
The term "fireside chat" was inspired by a statement by Roosevelt's press secretary, Stephen Early, who said that the president liked to think of the audience as a few people seated around his fireside.