June 6, 1944: Allied forces land on the beaches of Normandy, launching a long-awaited invasion of Nazi-occupied France. CBS listeners learned of the invasion from Robert Trout, who covered the its first crucial days from CBS Studio 9 in New York. Events unfolded so quickly that Trout was forced to improvise from teletype and shortwave bulletins. He took to the microphone 35 times in 24 hours. One particular stretch lasted for more than seven hours. No wonder he garnered the nickname, “the iron man of radio.” The audio clip below is from one of his earliest reports on June 6. At the time, only German radio was reporting “an invasion.” At the time, no formal announcement had been made by Allied forces. Trout warned listeners it might all be a ruse.
“This is Robert Trout in Paris with a dimension on that popular pastime, rioting”
Robert Trout wasn’t a fan of the Parisian students who resisted and persisted in May 1968, nor of the police with whom they tussled. Together, they made his grocery man late and closed his favorite restaurants. The sting of tear gas made getting home a chore — you had to cover your face “like the bad guy, the bandit in an old style Western movie,” as he put it to his radio listeners. And that was if one could get home. Once during “Mai ’68,” Trout was stuck in Paris traffic for so long the people in front of him started playing chess on the hood of their car.
Trout’s press pass for an international conference in Paris, 1968. Robert Trout Papers.
Charlie Did It. (Just Ask George)
During the 1980s, the United States government provided covert assistance to the Mujahideen, an Afghan rebel force engaged in armed revolt against their Russian occupiers. At the heart of these clandestine efforts was a not-so-covert Texan, Congressman Charlie Wilson. 6’7” in his boots, Wilson made multiple trips to Afghanistan between 1982 and 1988, where he was greeted as a hero. The reason: Wilson’s wheeling and dealing in the U.S. House of Representatives (he was a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee) enabled millions of dollars in equipment and supplies to be funneled to the rebels.