Original essays exploring important developments in radio and television broadcasting.
The essays included in this collection represent some of the best cultural and historical research on broadcasting in the U. S. today. Each one concentrates on a particular event in broadcast history—beginning with Marconi’s introduction of wireless technology in 1899.
Michael Brown examines newspaper reporting in America of Marconi's belief in Martians, stories that effectively rendered Marconi inconsequential to the further development of radio. The widespread installation of radios in automobiles in the 1950s, Matthew Killmeier argues, paralleled the development of television and ubiquitous middle-class suburbia in America. Heather Hundley analyzes depictions of male and female promiscuity as presented in the sitcom Cheers at a time concurrent with media coverage of the AIDS crisis. Fritz Messere examines the Federal Radio Act of 1927 and the clash of competing ideas about what role radio should play in American life. Chad Dell recounts the high-brow programming strategy NBC adopted in 1945 to distinguish itself from other networks. And George Plasketes studies the critical reactions to Cop Rock, an ill-fated combination of police drama and musical, as an example of society's resistance to genre-mixing or departures from formulaic programming.
The result is a collection that represents some of the most recent and innovative scholarship, cultural and historical, on the intersections of broadcasting and American cultural, political, and economic life.