First broadcast on the radio in 1947, You Are There presented historic events as they would have been reported by modern news broadcasters. In 1953, the program jumped to television with Walter Cronkite as the host, who also hosted a brief revival of the show in the 70s.
The series also featured various key events in American and world history, portrayed in dramatic recreations, with one addition — CBS News reporters, in modern-day suits, would report on the action and interview the characters. Each episode would begin with the characters setting the scene. Cronkite, from his anchor desk in New York, would give a few words on what was about to happen. An announcer would then give the date and the event, followed by a bold, “You Are There!”
Cronkite would then return to describe the event and its characters more in detail, before throwing it to the event, saying, “All things are as they were then, except… You Are There.”
At the end of the program, after Cronkite summarizes what happened in the preceding event, he reminded viewers, “What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times… and you were there.”
Here’s a clip from an episode from the 70s version of the show about the siege of the Alamo. Cronkite reports and Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster) plays Davy Crockett.
What a fantastic idea for a show…I’d love to see a contemporary version of this. Well, not too contemporary; watching a CNBC-style presentation of the 1929 stock market crash wouldn’t really be that fun.