Recently, in conjunction with a new writing project, I began to research the life of Charles Coughlin, the infamous radio priest, hatemonger, and venomous anti-Semite of the 1930s. To this end, I ordered from Amazon a CD entitled Father Coughlin is on the Air! I actually bought the CD from one of Amazon’s many independent sellers. I did not pay attention to the name of the vendor, and clicked through as quickly as possible to complete the sale and get back to work.
When the CD arrived, it came with a catalog, copied poorly on plain white paper. I paid no attention to this cheap-looking product directory, putting it in my inbox for later review. That evening, I played the CD. Based on Coughlin’s evil reputation as the father of hate radio, I expected to hear a ranting and raving lunatic. However, during the two radio broadcasts on the CD – programs for April 4 and 11, 1937 – Coughlin did not come across as unduly intemperate or unhinged. Quite the opposite. His delivery was powerful and passionate, and spoken in a strong and mellifluous voice, although for this listener fairly confusing, as the priest spoke disjointedly of unseemly debt and taxation levels, as well as the “manufacturing of money,” and what he quaintly termed “private property-ship.”