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A fireside chat withour the fire? Reagan's radio ''fireside chats'' don't crackle with the same intensity as those of FDR 50 years ago, according to Kay Israel, a specialist in political communication at Boston University. When Roosevelt began his broadcasts March 12 , 1933, he was using the dominant electronic media of his day, says Kay. Today, TV dominates. So Reagan reaches a much more limited audience - mostly his own loyal supporters - with his weekly radiocasts.

Another difference: FDR sought a mandate from Americans for his New Deal; Reagan's goal, she says, is to maintain a political image.m

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