History Book – AP begins, and Mount Saint Helens erupts


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, May 18th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

BRIAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Brian Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD History Book.

Today, the 40th anniversary of the Mount Saint Helens eruption. Plus, the birthday of a Dutch resistance fighter who rescued more than 100 Jews.

EICHER: But first, the story behind one of the world’s largest news agencies. Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, CORRESPONDENT: During the Mexican-American War in 1846, five daily New York newspapers banded together to help share the expense of wiring back accounts of the conflict to their newsrooms. The Sun, The Journal of Commerce, the New York Herald, the New York Evening Express, and the New York Courier and Enquirer were the founding members of the New York Associated Press.

Other news organizations and publishers soon joined the group. But in the 1890s, the editor of the Chicago Daily News uncovered unethical practices by the NYAP. The revelations broke up the association. Some of its members regrouped, set up headquarters in Chicago, and called themselves simply the Associated Press. 

In 1900, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the AP was a public utility, and must operate in the public trust in the state. So the Associated Press moved back to New York and incorporated there on May 22nd, 1900, where they’ve been ever since. 

Their certificate of incorporation describes the group as “an association of persons united in a mutual and cooperative organization for the collection and interchange of information and intelligence for publication.”

Today, the Associated Press is the world’s largest news agency. It operates more than 250 news bureaus, in over 100 countries. The AP cooperative provides news stories for print and broadcast news organizations around the world. 

In the last 100 years, AP reporters and photographers have won 53 Pulitzer Prizes for excellence in journalism.

Next, May 19th, 1920. One hundred years ago this week in Holland.

Marie Schotte and Alphonse Buchter are socialist atheists living in Amsterdam. On this day, they give birth to a daughter and name her Tineke. 

At 16, she decides to study psychiatry at university. But her studies are interrupted by the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in 1940.

NEWSREEL: Almost 10,000 troops were landed in this manner…

Her best friend is a Jewish girl. Tineke and her mother hide her, and in the process, become part of the underground resistance movement. Over the duration of the war, they protect more than 100 Jews.

STROBOS: Seventy years ago…my family, my friends, my fellow students resisted the Nazi occupation. 

In 2009, she spoke before the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center of New York City after receiving an award honoring her rescue work.

STROBOS: That if you helped Jews, you had death penalty. So I said, “Who wants to live under Hitler anyway?” So we did it. (LAUGHTER)

In a New York Times article that same year, Strobos explained why she risked her own life to help others. She said: “It’s the right thing to do…Your conscience tells you to do it. I believe in heroism, and when you’re young, you want to do dangerous things.”

And finally, May 18th, 1980, 50 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon:

AUDIO: It happened this morning at 8:28. Mount St. Helen’s shook with its most violent eruption in 123 years…

Audio courtesy of KGW-News. 

Throughout the spring, the area around Mount St. Helens began experiencing tremors. A vent opened on the mountain, and steam began escaping from the summit. 

Seismologists and other volcanic scientists began warning of a possible eruption. Then one morning in May…

BOYD LEVET: The volcano’s blasts have come with a vengeance today. The spectacle of the massive plume is one few will forget…

That morning, local news photographer and cameraman Dave Crockett was 8 miles from the mountain, waiting for something to happen. When it did, he knew he had to get out of there.  

DAVE CROCKETT: I started down the valley, look in my rearview mirror, and there was just a wall of debri, mud, steam, rocks, boulders, and full size trees just rolling along. 

Crockett was stranded. The road was washed out in front of him, and behind him. He took some pictures from his vantage point, and then drew an arrow in the ash gathering on his hood—pointing in the direction he was about to start walking. 

A few minutes later, the ash cloud completely enveloped him. He turned on his camera and started talking:

DAVE CROCKETT: I never thought I’d believe this or say this, but at this moment, I honest to God think I’m dead. There’s really no way to describe the feeling. Ash is getting in my eyes.

Crockett survived, but 57 residents, scientists, and tourists died in the explosion. The ash-cloud reached 15 miles high, and 40 miles wide. Ash from the eruption drifted in the jet stream and fell to earth as far as 2,000 miles away.

That’s this week’s WORLD History Book. I’m Paul Butler.


(Photo/Jack Smith, AP) Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington State in 1980. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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