"It's a beautiful day in Chicago!" Chicago by Nemorino

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Brave New World in Evanston, 1941

As I mentioned on my homepage (under the heading "Quiz #2"), Everett Mitchell was the host of the nationally broadcast NBC radio program called (deep breath here):

THE NATIONAL FARM AND HOME HOUR.

It came on every Saturday at 12 noon and was broadcast live from WMAQ's legendary Studio A on the twentieth floor of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, with a live band and a studio audience.

The ritual was that after the band had finished playing their opening march music -- The Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), a march better known to us grade-school twerps as Be kind to your web-footed friends for that duck may be somebody's mother -- Everett Mitchell would step up to the microphone and say:

"It's a beautiful day in Chicago!"

Of course he would usually have to qualify that in some way, for instance:

"Well, it is a bit on the cloudy side, and there's some rain and thunder and sleet and hailstorms and gale-force winds and slush piling up on the streets" or whatever the weather was like in Chicago on that particular day. Then he always said:

"But it's a great day to be alive, and we hope it's even more beautiful wherever you are."

At which point I usually turned off the big Zenith radio in the living room and went outside to play, since I was a suburban child with absolutely no interest in the week's agricultural news, I just wanted to hear the opening ritual.

When I was six or seven years old I pestered my mother for weeks about it, and she finally took me down to the Merchandise Mart on the El (we lived in Evanston) so I could be in the studio audience and see a live performance of the show. Everett Mitchell was rather more corpulent that I had imagined, but otherwise I was very impressed. From that day on I was determined to be a radio announcer when I grew up, and in fact I later did spend several years working as the news director of a California radio station.



I recently did a Google search on Everett Mitchell and came up with the following biographical sketch from a site called www.wheaton.edu:

"Everett Mitchell was born on the west side of Chicago, March 15, 1898. His father was a vegetable farmer in what was then a rural area. Interested in music from his childhood, Mitchell was a vocalist. His voice changed when he was twelve, which cost him his place in the children's choir, but which gave him three years of experience as a baritone before he auditioned for Billy Sunday in 1913. The next four summers, Mitchell spent in the employ of Sunday, singing invitation songs at rallies and crusades. His last appearance with Sunday was in Chicago in 1918.
In 1923, Mitchell auditioned as a radio vocalist for Chicago station KYW, beginning a thirty-eight year career in radio broadcasting. In his career, Mitchell worked for stations WQJ, WEBH, WMAQ, WENR, and WHT. His program was the National Farm and Home Hour, sponsored by Allis Chalmers farm equipment company. The phrase "It's a beautiful day in Chicago" was coined by him in 1932 at the depths of the Depression; it was originally intended as a spirit-builder.

Another website, www.dupageheritage.org, tells the story this way:

"In May of 1932, in the darkest hours of the Great Depression, Mitchell rebelled at accepting the pessimism that blanketed the entire nation like a heavy fog.
After listening to gloom on the train, "The Bankers’ Special," while commuting to his office, a series of thoughts crowded into Mitchell’s mind including an old nursery rhyme his mother had taught him. When he stepped to the Farm and Home Hour microphone that noon, he ad-libbed which was against NBC regulations, "It’s a beautiful day in Chicago. It is a great day to be alive, and I hope it is even more beautiful wherever you are." Although a note arrived during the program directing Mitchell to report to the president’s office when the program was over, by the time he reported the switchboard at NBC was swamped with calls for "the Beautiful Day man," many of them pleading with him to "say it again tomorrow because it makes me feel so good." He did say it the next day and until he retired more than thirty years later. President Roosevelt gave Mitchell wartime permission to continue to use his "Beautiful Day" introduction even when all radio references to the weather was [sic] banned."

The slogan was also taken over by other Chicago radio personalities. It seems to me Jack Brickhouse used to say it on WIND while describing the Cubs baseball games, and according to Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations it was also used by Don McNiel as his traditional opening for The Breakfast Club from 1933 to 1968. (I never knew The Breakfast Club went on so long; can't imagine why.)


A government website, www.nal.usda.gov (NAL stands for National Agricultural Library), describes The National Farm and Home Hour as "the most popular radio program of all time in this country. The National Farm and Home Hour was aired over the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) from 1928 to 1960, and was cosponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NBC as a public service program for farmers and homemakers."

  • Last visit to Chicago: Feb 1989
  • Intro Updated Jul 24, 2011
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Comments (38)

  • wise23girl's Profile Photo
    Dec 30, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    Just re read this page..it is so interesting ....but I have rated these before I know
    Marg

  • MD2nd's Profile Photo
    Jan 12, 2011 at 3:06 AM

    Thank you for your interest in my Ferch and Potsdam page, and happy New Year 2011 to you too!

  • May 4, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    I got caught up in a rain, in Chicago, on a Sunday May afternoon. Soaking-wet, in a fast-food, dougnut-selling, place on Madison, I watched people come out of an opera performance. Cheers! :-))

  • mindcrime's Profile Photo
    Mar 5, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    wow! you must be the expert on VT when it comes to opera. Great tips (although I prefer rock n roll)

  • globetrott's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2009 at 9:42 AM

    an interesting page, thanks for sharing, Don and happy New Year 2010 !

  • DSwede's Profile Photo
    Oct 25, 2009 at 5:33 AM

    Ah yes, it is a beautiful day in Chicago! One of my favorite cities! Thanks for stopping by! If I ever get back near Germany, we'll have to meet for an opera (never been to a true opera, but several musicals).

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Oct 6, 2009 at 8:44 AM

    Though I am not keen on big cities, I make an exception for Chicago. Hans and I really enjoyed our visits there.

  • risse73's Profile Photo
    May 25, 2009 at 3:43 PM

    Good to know your daughter has visited Bohol. BTW, the "beautiful" phrase remains apropos today. Yes, opera prices here are prohibitive. I'm envious that it's "cheap" enough in Frankfurt, but glad that it's accessible to the masses. -Marissa-

  • evaanna's Profile Photo
    Dec 10, 2008 at 11:32 AM

    Now I understand your motto.:)

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Jul 16, 2007 at 12:48 AM

    now it makes sense - as i type this I can In the depths of the temple from Pearl Fishers

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