Radio news correspondence turned yet another corner in March of 1938, expanding beyond the borders of the local networks...even beyond the border of our country. With the Anschluss, events in Europe became too important for Americans to remain uninformed. For six days after the entrance of Hitler's armies into Venice, American radios carried a near constant stream of coverage on the European events. Listeners heard the opinions of correspondents in Paris, Berlin, London, and Rome. And all of this in the familiar style of regular programming interruptions.
Just one month prior to Orson Welles' broadcast, the nation had sat listening to other broadcasts from around the world. News broadcasters provided eager listeners the fast changing news from Europe as Hitler informed Czechoslovakia of his desire for the Sudetenland. Europe braced for war, and the United States networks readied their correspondents for reporting. Programs were continually interrupted with the latest updates, commentaries, and speeches from the world powers.
When Hitler decided to move against Czechoslovakia in September. The radio networks had refined the skills developed during the Anschluss. American reporters continually presented information as it happened, often before any other news service world wide. During the eighteen days of the Munich Crisis, NBC alone interrupted its regular programming some 440 times to deliver its tense special bulletins across the wires. CBS's news bulletins were always accompanied by analyses by Hans von Kaltenborn. These analyses were given priority over all commercial broadcasts. In eighteen days, CBS lost around $25,000 in advertising refunds.
Shortly after the Munich Crisis, a Kansas State College survey revealed that less than 8% of the nation did not listen to at least one newscast a day. CBS had gained a name for itself in reporting fast-breaking, world affecting news coverage. As one British news journal wrote:
The best information on the development of the international situation has come from the American short-wave stations. Vivid on-the-spot relays from foreign capitals, plus expert commentaries by students of foreign affairs, have kept Americans abreast of events. Fortunate are those Britons who had receivers which brought in the Columbia broadcasts.
One survey in October of 1938 showed that 70% of those questioned relied on the radio as their source of information during the Munich Crisis. It was this reliance that allowed listeners to place their trust into the voice of Orson Welles and his cast.