Fraser, J. Gordon (John Gordon Fraser)
- Existence: 1908-2000
John Gordon Fraser, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John H. Fraser, was born February 4, 1908 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He attended Brown University where, in his senior year, he began his career as a news reporter with WEAN in Providence, Rhode Island. After graduation he began working for WMCA in New York. His duties at this new station included annotating a nightly fifteen minute radio news dramatization, and three-times weekly presenting a sports show during which he re-created one of the day's baseball games in thirteen minutes, including the background crowd noise.
In 1936 Fraser joined NBC's staff of news announcers. At this time in his career he was known by the name Jack Fraser. Within two months of being with NBC, he became "The Esso Reporter," a spot heard eight times daily. Fraser could also be heard as an announcer on "Gospel Singer," "Personal Column of the Air," "Life Can Be Beautiful," and several other daytime serials. Fraser also astounded the world that year by being the first announcer to broadcast from a racecar. Driven by Lou Myers, three-time winner of the Indianapolis classic, the car sped around the Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury, Connecticut, traveling approximately 120 mph, while Fraser demonstrated that it was possible to broadcast from a moving vehicle.
1939 proved to be another year of firsts for the world. At the New York World's Fair, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the exposition, Fraser was the announcer at the first public demonstration of the television.
It was not long before Fraser could boast that he had more than 5000 broadcasts under his belt. Included among these are the following: the maiden voyages of the Queen Mary and the Normandie, the maiden flight of the Hindenburg, and the American tour of King George and Queen Elizabeth. The venues of some of his broadcasts were unique as well, from ships, to planes, and even submarines, although a majority of these early years of broadcasting centered around sporting events.
At the age of 35, Fraser was assigned as a war correspondent for the Blue Network (at the time, an offshot of the NBC network). At the same time, Fraser's older brother, Donald H. Fraser, was assigned as personnel investigator for the U.S. Civil Service in Hawaii. The younger Fraser left the U.S. in 1943 to cover Allied activities in North Africa, Italy, France, Belgium, England, and Germany.
As a war correspondent, and at times as Acting Bureau Chief, Fraser found himself at the front lines of action, able to obtain "scoops" to which no other reporters were privy. Among Fraser's "scoop" stories are the following: he made the first eye-witness broadcast of the liberation of Rome, he was the first to broadcast the attempted assassination of General DeGaulle shortly after the liberation of Paris, he was the first eye-witness to the Siegfried Line breach at Rotgen, he was the first eye-witness to the enemy cut-off at The Bulge, he was the first eye-witness and first Allied correspondent across the Rhine at the Remagen Bridge, and he was present at the victorious meeting of American and Russian troops on the Elbe River in Germany at the war's end. Because of his bravery and dedication, Fraser was awarded seven battle stars in the field. He stayed in Germany until V-E Day and returned to the U.S. in preparation to travel to Japan. However, the Pacific war ended and Fraser broadcast the official statement of the war's end. Since he was now home from his war duties, the U.S. War Department saw fit to award him the Ribbon of Merit for his wartime corresponding.
After the war, Fraser stayed on at Blue Network, which was to eventually become ABC, where he was involved in both television and radio broadcasting. On the television side he announced news and special events, including being the writer/producer, for the following: World Tonight (five minute spot), War Tonight (five minute spot), Ride on the Berlin Airlift (30 minute documentary), 4H Youth Germany(vignettes), 4H Youth Austria (vignettes), and News & Views (15 minute nightly spot). As for radio, Fraser provided commentary for Notes on the News, broadcast a 15 minute daily analysis of the news, provided Tomorrow's Headlines for 15 minutes, and reported Human Relations in Industry (a series of 26 5-minute reports for the Ford Company during the Sunday Evening Hour). Additionally, Fraser, an accredited correspondent at the United Nations since 1946, covered major stories and provided 30 minutes of actualities and commentary on U. N. stories. His reporting was noticed by Warren Austin, former Chief of the United States Mission to the U. N., and Fraser received a letter from Austin commending him for his knowledge and interpretation of the United Nations to the people of this country.
Fraser rejoined NBC in 1955 to help launch "Monitor", a new weekend radio program. Here Fraser performed the following duties: Assitant Managing Editor, liaison editor between all NBC radio affiliates and Monitor, host for one of the program's Sunday segments, Feature Editor, Monitor News Desk, "On-the-air" Editor on weekends, and writer and broadcaster of special features.
Fraser retired from NBC in 1973 and made his way to central Florida in 1974, where he remained retired for only eight years. In 1982, Fraser took on the position of General Manager at WPRK 91.5, the radio station at Rollins College in Winter Park. He stayed on in this position until 1990, at which time he retired from radio for good.
On the personal side, Fraser married Patricia Hammond Tilden and the two had four children--John Jr., Jane, James, and Faith. He was an accomplished pianist and expert on classical music, and his hobbies included tennis, boating, deep-sea fishing, photography, and singing in the church choir. After his second retirement, Fraser began compiling his notes on World War II in order to write a book. The book remained unwritten at the time of his death in 2000.
Found in 1 Collection or Record:
John Gordon Fraser Journalism Papers
This collection covers Fraser's working years from 1936 until his retirement in 1973. Included in his collection are handwritten notes from the field of battle in World War II, broadcasts scripts for radio and television, correspondence, photographs, memorabilia, and maps.