Two weeks after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, Indiana University Telecommunications Professor R. LeRoy Bannerman wrote and produced Tears of Rain, a 15-minute radio docudrama that interweaves the stories of the Kennedy and Lincoln assassinations.
“The effect of the assassination of President Kennedy was tremendous,” says Bannerman, who is now in his late eighties. “People cried all over the country.”
“There were just so many parallels” between the Kennedy and Lincoln assassinations, Bannerman says. Some involved rain—both real and symbolic. It rained the day Kennedy’s body was returned to Washington DC; it misted rain at the funeral; it rained the day when Lincoln was declared dead and his body was brought out of the tavern across from the theater where he was taken after being shot. And, there were the tears shed by the nation’s citizenry after each event.
To voice the parts, Bannerman drew mostly on IU telecom students—some of whom he pressed into service by grabbing them as they passed by his office—and recorded the piece in the WFIU studios. The docudrama has aired only twice before—shortly after the assassination and again a few years later.
Bannerman says the program was written in a dramatic style that now sounds dated. He jokes, “It’s a good thing that I retired when I did—the medium has passed me by!” Still, he says, “I always felt it was one of my better efforts.”
Tears of Rain was produced as part of the School of the Sky begun by former Professor of Telecom George Johnson. School of the Sky programs were aired on university radio stations and sent by tape to schools across the Midwest to be played in the classroom as “audio education.”
LeRoy Bannerman came to IU in 1957, and was a Professor of Telecommunications for nineteen years. His specialty was audio production for radio, television, and film. He retired in 1986. He is the author of a biography of radio auteur Norman Corwin, Note of Triumph: Norman Corwin and the Golden Years of Radio, and Where Blood Runs Black and White, which is on race relations and civil rights. He is working on a third book to be titled World War II: The Radio War.