You Are There presents “live” broadcasts where reporters have to scramble sometimes to keep up with events. It is history not as a record of facts, but as a dangerous, unpredictable drama. The series ranges freely in time and space, sending reporters to the Spartans at Thermopylae, Julius Caesar at the Senate, Joan of Arc at Rouen, Lee and Grant at Appomattox, and the Peary expedition near the Pole. Even if you know the history at hand, “You Are There” manages—by the sheer newsiness of its coverage—to make these events as engaging as the latest headline.
The demands of covering a world-wide war in the ’40s drove a chain of innovations at CBS. They honed the news presentation format we now take for granted: live, remote, multipoint reports where personnel in the field would be introduced—and often interrogated—by a calm and commanding anchor at the New York newsroom. With WWII over, it made sense to use the same crew and techniques on documentaries and special programs such as You Are There, a category we’d eventually call “infotainment”.
All the familiar news report patterns are present, from the anchorman at his desk to the newsmen at the scene, with interruptions and tosses, background commotion, microphone handling noises, and shouts to citizens (no matter the era) to “watch that cable”. The anchorman is Don Hollenbeck, famous for his broadcasts under fire during the landing at Salerno. His newsmen in the field are the well-known, real-life reporters John Daly and Richard C. Hottelet. Dozens of others pitch in to play famous or forgotten figures, applying a broad range of accents and styles.
The You Are There scripts were so good, and fact-checking so thorough, that when the series came to television with Walter Cronkite as anchor, very few changes were made to the material.
Joan of Arc Burned at the Stake: 1431
It was common practice at the time to air episodes more than once. Rather than repeat those shows, this collection provides the recording with the best audio quality.