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This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.

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by Jack French © 2013
(From Radio Recall, February 2013)

On this 80th Anniversary of the 1932 Lindbergh Kidnapping, the event is still "The Crime of the Century" based upon its impact on the national and international scene. It involved not only the kidnapping but the murder of a small boy and it generated more shock among the citizens of North American and Europe than a presidential assassination. And this crime, and subsequent trial, certainty resulted in more news stories. radio summaries. magazine articles over a five year period than any other criminal event, before or since. However despite the extensive coverage of the kidnapping-murder of Charles Lindbergh's infant son, the arrest of Bruno Hauptmann, and the lengthy trial, very little of the radio coverage has survived to present day

Two years after the kidnapping, in September 1934. Hauptmann was taken into custody and a search of his residence and garage discovered about $ 15,000 in the missing ransom money (carefully hidden), and a tool set in which a chisel was missing (which matched the one found the night 01 the kidnapping). Despite all the overwhelming evidence, he continued to protest his innocence and the October 5, 1934 The March of Time program summarized his interrogation for CBS radio,citing all the damning evidence against the kidnapper (The program is in general circulation.) Whiie there are no credits on this program. Hauptmann was probably voiced by Dwight Weiss, who did most of the roles on "The March of Time" which required a German accent.

After a grand jury indictment and extradition to New Jersey, the trial began on January 2, 1935. The trial had attracted over 100 reporters from America and Europe, 25 radio and telegraph operators, and even a newsreel camera were used in the gallery. Walter Winchell and other radio columnists were there and other show·biz personalities flocked to courtroom as spectators including Jack Benny.

Samuel Leibowitz, a prominent Brooklyn defense attorney, was hired by WHN Radio to broadcast regular trial updates on the air. They were done on transcription disks for subsequent airings and are apparently the only radio programs that survived, of the thousands of radio shows and bulletins that came out of the lengthy trial. Nearly five hours total of Leibowitz 's trial observations remain with us, but unfortunately they are all in the custody of the Museum of Television and Radio in Manhattan. That means that anyone can go there in person and listen to them, but no one can dub any copies of them.

Mutual Radio had a tradition in those years to air a year-end summary each December of what they termed The Top News Stories ot the Year in 1935 the program was narrated by announcer Seymour Birkson. Although the Hauptmann trial was clearly the top story that year Birkson bumped it down to number 2, right behind the Italian war in Ethiopia, Birkson summarizes the trial in a half dozen sentences. Copies of this program are In general circulation.