South Jersey man creates audio history of JFK’s final hours

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy arrive at Love Field, Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963.

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy arrive at Love Field, Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963. (Cecil Stoughton,White House Photographs/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston)

On November 22, 1963, Michael Maggio was playing with toy guns in his childhood home in Patterson, New Jersey.

“Suddenly that special bulletin came on, that black screen with just the white words special bulletin and that familiar voice of Walter Cronkite. At that point I heard my mother gasp and my grandmother yell from downstairs,” recalls Maggio.

Like many from his generation that day never left his mind.

“I was fascinated with the audio side of all of the news that was happening that day, because it was the last time radio was the lead player in the information dispersion,” said Maggio, who now lives in Galloway Township near Atlantic City.

Michael Maggeo combined his love of radio and interest in history to make an audio timeline of the events on November 22,1963.
Michael Maggio combined his love of radio and interest in history to make an audio timeline of the events on November 22,1963. (Anthony Smedile for WHYY)

Maggio combined his love of radio and interest in history to make an audio timeline of the events on that fatal day. It took about six months of collecting audio and culling through it all to put it into a comprehensive story line.

“Thank God for YouTube,” he said. “I wanted to make it a natural progression, as close as I could to real time of that day.”

In this clip, we hear an enthusiastic Maggio describe parts of the 80-minute audio CD in a compressed timeline. The original does not include any commentary.

It starts with a Texas radio station broadcasting from Love Field in Dallas. We hear the festive mood of the Texas crowd, and a description of the president’s motorcade through the city.

The timeline includes news flashes with conflicting reports interrupting radio shows from stations throughout the United States, then continues with chilling reports confirming the president’s death. (Listen to the full 80-minute timeline on SoundCloud.)

“The reason I made this disc is to give myself closure for something that has fascinated me, dominated the early part of my life, and let me put to rest all of the questions. This tome is very very complete because it’s a representation of history as it happened.”

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