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Mr. President! Old Time Radio Show Review by Camilla Anderson

Jim Hodges
Jim Hodges Audio Books
629 Admiral Drive
Annapolis, MD 21401
1 (405) 808-9758

This CD holds 44 half-hour radio shows that were originally broadcast between 1947 and 1953. The audio files are in an MP3 format, so they will not play on a standard CD player. They will play on your computer, a DVD player, or an MP3-compatible CD player. They will also load nicely on an iPod or MP3 player. Those who are computer-savvy may convert the files to .wav files so that they will play in a regular CD player. The shows on the CD are the actual shows as they originally aired, with commercials. 

Each show re-enacts an actual event in the life of a president, using actual memos and other documentation. Mr. Edward Arnold, the actor who played the president in all 44 shows, became so popular because of the success of the show, that President Truman invited him to the White House many times--even addressing him good-naturedly as "Mr. President!" During the show, the identity of the president is not revealed. However, several historical clues are given. At the conclusion of the show, you are told which president is the star of the story. I was interested in this CD because I was looking for products that might enhance our history as a multi-age class. It did not quite work for this purpose. This show was far too advanced for my first grader and a little too much for my 10-year-old daughter. My son (15) and I, however, loved it. 

The acting in the show is superb--very riveting and thoroughly entertaining. Edward Arnold makes each president seem commanding, sensitive, brilliant, brave, honorable--all the things a president should be. The supporting actors and actresses are just as skilled. The script is wonderfully done. I didn't recall one dull moment, but there were lots of exciting and even humorous moments. I found myself listening intently, eagerly, and even laughing out loud. My history knowledge is horrible, so I was only able to guess a few of the presidents accurately. The true history buff might even be left guessing on many of these shows. But for each show, I eagerly waited the "reveal" moment, and I can say I've definitely improved in my knowledge of presidential history. 

I would recommend this CD as a history supplement for the junior high age on up. Although it would be an entertaining educational tool for both boys and girls, I feel that boys would typically enjoy it more (lots of action, military officers, assassination attempts, etc.). If you are studying the presidents, it would be a great review--a fun way to end your study! Or, if you wanted to listen to the shows ahead of time and make a list of which president went with which show, you could play a particular show while you were studying a particular president (no, this information is not included with the CD). I also think it would be great for the whole family for listening in the car or as an evening alternative to television. Personally, I thought the half-hour shows made for a perfect treadmill workout!

I have listened to many of Jim Hodges' audio products. This radio show reproduction is one of the best, in my opinion. If you are a history lover, you will love this CD even more. As for the $25 price tag, don't be put off by it. It may be only one CD, but it is 22 hours of authentic, vintage, golden-age-of-radio programming. If you're doubtful, you can try it before you buy it. Simply download one of the shows for free on the Jim Hodges website (listed above). An excellent value for a wonderful product!

Product review by Camilla Anderson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2010