Outpost Radio Talk

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Special Programming: November 22 was the 55th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Outpost Radio Talk is now broadcasting original radio coverage of the events of those days, just as millions of listeners heard it at that time. We are also broadcasting radio coverage of other major events of the 1960s, including particularly 1963 and 1968.

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About the 1960s recordings: Many of these were made from stations in Detroit, Michigan in the hours and days following the assassination and have never before been publicly available. Soon after initial reports of the shooting were received, the networks preempted programming on local affiliates. You will hear live reporting from Dallas, from across the country and around the world plus retrospectives of President Kennedy hastly produced by the networks and local stations. Also included are commercially released recordings of radio coverage of events of the 1960s.

The presentation of the Detroit recordings is a joint project of Jim Feliciano at Motor City Radio Flashbacks, Bob Pratt, and Dan Murphy of Outpost Radio. These recordings are being streamed here on Outpost Radio, and they are available in podcast form on MCRFB where they will remiain indefinitely.

Following are reflections from Bob Pratt, who made most of the Detroit recordings, on how that came about.

My Memories of President Kennedy’s Assassination


November 22, 1963 started out like any other Friday in Detroit. I was a junior studying electrical engineering at Wayne State University and I awaited the arrival of my friend Dany that morning. It was his day to drive and we were soon on our way.

Our classes were mostly in the morning and we were ready to leave for our return trip home by early afternoon. But before we could leave, Dany had to make a stop at the engineering office to pick up some important papers from one of the professors. He parked in front of the engineering office and headed in. I waited in the car.

In those days, I was one of the on-air personalities with a DJ show once a week and occasionally a news broadcast on the campus “current carrier” AM station, WUBG. There had been talk among the station management about beginning some dramatic radio plays at some point, and although I wasn’t involved in that endeavor, I was curious about what was on the air while I waited. I tuned in to 620 AM and discovered a play in progress about the assassination of the president. Ah, the Abraham Lincoln story, I figured. It was being presented in a very dramatic and realistic style and I was hooked for a while.

But I began to sense that something was not quite right about the details and I decided to tune in something else. I switched over to WJR to catch some music and quickly realized that this was not about our 16th president, but was a live news report about our 35th president, John F. Kennedy. I was stunned to learn he had been critically shot and might not survive. It was the biggest shock I had ever received in my young life.

Dany returned a few minutes later and we headed toward my home in silence, except for the somber reports from the radio. I turned on the TV when I arrived home and my mother and I remained glued to the set until my dad arrived home from work.

I had a quarter track stereo tape deck back then, a Viking model 88 that allowed two stereo tracks or up to four mono tracks to be recorded on the two sides of a tape. My dad suggested that I get upstairs and start recording from the radio as quickly as possible. I grabbed an empty tape, loaded it up and tuned into WWJ- FM. They were broadcasting a network news feed from NBC radio at that time.

We had a quick dinner and my dad had another stroke of genius. “Keep recording as long as you can and I’ll go out and buy several 2400 Ft reels of tape. We should be able to go for several days.” he said. And so we did.

Over the next few days we recorded as much as we could, day and night, from WWJ-FM, WJR-FM and WJBK- FM. There were reports from around the world, across the nation and around our town of the capture of the assassin, the death of the president, the funeral, and comments from world leaders, local dignitaries and neighbors down the street.

We followed the capture of Lee Harvey Oswald by the police and his assassination by Jack Ruby. We cried at the TV scenes of the first lady and the president’s children who stood stunned by the events and his loss.

Although the pomp and circumstance were over in a few days, the memories of those times will never leave me.

 After the events were finally over, I packed the tapes away for safe keeping. There were about 16 hours of sound all together. I never listened to them until a few months ago when my friend, Jim Feliciano, mentioned that he was very interested in the Kennedy assassination and wondered if I had any recordings from 1963. I pulled out the box and examined the tapes. They looked to be in good shape. I spot checked a couple and found that indeed the recordings were well preserved. I offered to make copies for him.

I planned to let each track run for the full hour into my computer and convert each to an mp3 file for storage. But they were so captivating that I listened to almost every one during the recording process. It was a truly somber experience, and with all the international comments, it made me realize how loved and respected the United States and our people were in those days. The tapes also showed how we as a nation stuck together almost as one big family. I long for those simpler days and wonder if we will ever be able to restore the cohesiveness and compassion we had back then.


As President John Kennedy famously said, “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

Robert G. Pratt 9/30/2018

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