Acoustic Properties: Radio, Narrative, and the New Neighborhood of the Americas discovers the prehistory of wireless culture. It examines both the coevolution of radio and the novel in Argentina, Cuba, and the United States from the early 1930s to the late 1960s, and the various populist political climates in which the emerging medium of radio became the chosen means to produce the voice of the people.
Based on original archival research in Buenos Aires, Havana, Paris, and the United States, the book develops a literary media theory that understands sound as a transmedial phenomenon and radio as a transnational medium. Analyzing the construction of new social and political relations in the wake of the United States’ 1930s Good Neighbor Policy, Acoustic Properties challenges standard narratives of hemispheric influence through new readings of Richard Wright’s cinematic work in Argentina, Severo Sarduy’s radio plays in France, and novels by John Dos Passos, Manuel Puig, Raymond Chandler, and Carson McCullers. Alongside these writers, the book also explores Che Guevara and Fidel Castro’s Radio Rebelde, FDR’s fireside chats, Félix Caignet’s invention of the radionovela in Cuba, Evita Perón’s populist melodramas in Argentina, Orson Welles’s experimental New Deal radio, Cuban and U.S. “radio wars,” and the 1960s African American activist Robert F. Williams’s proto–black power Radio Free Dixie.
From the doldrums of the Great Depression to the tumult of the Cuban Revolution, Acoustic Properties illuminates how novelists in the radio age converted writing into a practice of listening, transforming realism as they struggled to channel and shape popular power.
In 1931, the United States and France embarked on a broadcasting partnership built around radio. Over time, the transatlantic sonic alliance came to personify and to shape American-French relations in an era of increased global media production and distribution.
Drawing on a broad range of American and French archives, Derek Vaillant joins textual and aural materials with original data analytics and maps to illuminate U.S.-French broadcasting's political and cultural development. Vaillant focuses on the period from 1931 until France dismantled its state media system in 1974. His analysis examines mobile actors, circulating programs, and shifting institutions that shaped international radio's use in times of war and peace. He explores the extraordinary achievements, the miscommunications and failures, and the limits of cooperation between America and France as they shaped a new media environment. Throughout, Vaillant explains how radio's power as an instantaneous mass communications tool produced, legitimized, and circulated various notions of states, cultures, ideologies, and peoples as superior or inferior.
A first comparative history of its subject, Across the Waves provocatively examines how different strategic agendas, aesthetic aims and technical systems shaped U.S.-French broadcasting and the cultural politics linking the United States and France.
Started by the National Life and Accident Insurance Company in 1925, WSM became one of the most influential and exceptional radio stations in the history of broadcasting and country music. WSM gave Nashville the moniker “Music City USA” as well as a rich tradition of music, news, and broad-based entertainment. With the rise of country music broadcasting and recording between the 1920s and ‘50s, WSM, Nashville, and country music became inseparable, stemming from WSM’s launch of the Grand Ole Opry, popular daily shows like Noontime Neighbors, and early morning artist-driven shows such as Hank Williams on Mother’s Best Flour.
Sparked by public outcry following a proposal to pull country music and the Opry from WSM-AM in 2002, Craig Havighurst scoured new and existing sources to document the station’s profound effect on the character and self-image of Nashville. Introducing the reader to colorful artists and businessmen from the station’s history, including Owen Bradley, Minnie Pearl, Jim Denny, Edwin Craig, and Dinah Shore, the volume invites the reader to reflect on the status of Nashville, radio, and country music in American culture.
Before the Internet brought the world together, there was border radio. These mega-watt "border blaster" stations, set up just across the Mexican border to evade U.S. regulations, beamed programming across the United States and as far away as South America, Japan, and Western Europe. This book traces the eventful history of border radio from its founding in the 1930s by "goat-gland doctor" J. R. Brinkley to the glory days of Wolfman Jack in the 1960s. Along the way, it shows how border broadcasters pioneered direct sales advertising, helped prove the power of electronic media as a political tool, aided in spreading the popularity of country music, rhythm and blues, and rock, and laid the foundations for today’s electronic church. The authors have revised the text to include even more first-hand information and a larger selection of photographs.
In Breaks in the Air John Klaess tells the story of rap’s emergence on New York City’s airwaves by examining how artists and broadcasters adapted hip hop’s performance culture to radio. Initially, artists and DJs brought their live practice to radio by buying time on low-bandwidth community stations and building new communities around their shows. Later, stations owned by New York’s African American elite, such as WBLS, reluctantly began airing rap even as they pursued a sound rooted in respectability, urban sophistication, and polish. At the same time, large commercial stations like WRKS programmed rap once it became clear that the music attracted a demographic that was valuable to advertisers. Moving between intimate portraits of single radio shows and broader examinations of the legal, financial, cultural, and political forces that indelibly shaped the sound of rap radio, Klaess shows how early rap radio provides a lens through which to better understand the development of rap music as well as the intertwined histories of sounds, institutions, communities, and legal formations that converged in the post-Civil Rights era.
During the 1980s war in El Salvador, Radio Venceremos was the main news outlet for the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), the guerrilla organization that challenged the government. The broadcast provided a vital link between combatants in the mountains and the outside world, as well as an alternative to mainstream media reporting. In this first-person account, "Santiago," the legend behind Radio Venceremos, tells the story of the early years of that conflict, a rebellion of poor peasants against the Salvadoran government and its benefactor, the United States.
Originally published as La Terquedad del Izote, this memoir also addresses the broader story of a nationwide rebellion and its international context, particularly the intensifying Cold War and heavy U.S. involvement in it under President Reagan. By the war's end in 1992, more than 75,000 were dead and 350,000 wounded—in a country the size of Massachusetts. Although outnumbered and outfinanced, the rebels fought the Salvadoran Army to a draw and brought enough bargaining power to the negotiating table to achieve some of their key objectives, including democratic reforms and an overhaul of the security forces.
Broadcasting the Civil War in El Salvador is a riveting account from the rebels' point of view that lends immediacy to the Salvadoran conflict. It should appeal to all who are interested in historic memory and human rights, U.S. policy toward Central America, and the role the media can play in wartime.
Calling All Cars shows how radio played a key role in an emerging form of policing during the turbulent years of the Depression. Until this time popular culture had characterized the gangster as hero, but radio crime dramas worked against this attitude and were ultimately successful in making heroes out of law enforcement officers.
Through close analysis of radio programming of the era and the production of true crime docudramas, Kathleen Battles argues that radio was a significant site for overhauling the dismal public image of policing. However, it was not simply the elevation of the perception of police that was at stake. Using radio, reformers sought to control the symbolic terrain through which citizens encountered the police, and it became a medium to promote a positive meaning and purpose for policing. For example, Battles connects the apprehension of criminals by a dragnet with the idea of using the radio network to both publicize this activity and make it popular with citizens.
The first book to systematically address the development of crime dramas during the golden age of radio, Calling All Cars explores an important irony: the intimacy of the newest technology of the time helped create an intimate authority—the police as the appropriate force for control—over the citizenry.
Founded as a counterweight to the Communist broadcasters in East Germany, Radio in the American Sector (RIAS) became one of the most successful public information operations conducted against the Soviet Bloc. Cold War on the Airwaves examines the Berlin-based organization's history and influence on the political worldview of the people--and government--on the other side of the Iron Curtain.
Nicholas J. Schlosser draws on broadcast transcripts, internal memoranda, listener letters, and surveys by the U.S. Information Agency to profile RIAS. Its mission: to undermine the German Democratic Republic with propaganda that, ironically, gained in potency by obeying the rules of objective journalism. Throughout, Schlosser examines the friction inherent in such a contradictory project and propaganda's role in shaping political culture. He also portrays how RIAS's primarily German staff influenced its outlook and how the organization both competed against its rivals in the GDR and pushed communist officials to alter their methods in order to keep listeners.
From the occupation of Berlin through the airlift to the construction of the Berlin Wall, Cold War on the Airwaves offers an absorbing view of how public diplomacy played out at a flashpoint of East-West tension.
Drawing on a rich base of British archival materials, Arabic periodicals, and secondary sources, Colonialism and Christianity in Mandate Palestine brings to light the ways in which the British colonial state in Palestine exacerbated sectarianism. By transforming Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious identities into legal categories, Laura Robson argues, the British ultimately marginalized Christian communities in Palestine. Robson explores the turning points that developed as a result of such policies, many of which led to permanent changes in the region's political landscapes. Cases include the British refusal to support Arab Christian leadership within Greek-controlled Orthodox churches, attempts to avert involvement from French or Vatican-related groups by sidelining Latin and Eastern Rite Catholics, and interfering with Arab Christians' efforts to cooperate with Muslims in objecting to Zionist expansion. Challenging the widespread but mistaken notion that violent sectarianism was endemic to Palestine, Colonialism and Christianity in Mandate Palestine shows that it was intentionally stoked in the wake of British rule beginning in 1917, with catastrophic effects well into the twenty-first century.
A pioneering analysis of radio as both a cultural and material production, Communities of the Air explores radio’s powerful role in shaping Anglo-American culture and society since the early twentieth century. Scholars and radio writers, producers, and critics look at the many ways radio generates multiple communities over the air—from elite to popular, dominant to resistant, canonical to transgressive. The contributors approach radio not only in its own right, but also as a set of practices—both technological and social—illuminating broader issues such as race relations, gender politics, and the construction of regional and national identities.
Drawing on the perspectives of literary and cultural studies, science studies and feminist theory, radio history, and the new field of radio studies, these essays consider the development of radio as technology: how it was modeled on the telephone, early conflicts between for-profit and public uses of radio, and amateur radio (HAMS), local programming, and low-power radio. Some pieces discuss how radio gives voice to different cultural groups, focusing on the BBC and poetry programming in the West Indies, black radio, the history of alternative radio since the 1970s, and science and contemporary arts programming. Others look at radio’s influence on gender (and gender’s influence on radio) through examinations of Queen Elizabeth’s broadcasts, Gracie Allen’s comedy, and programming geared toward women. Together the contributors demonstrate how attention to the variety of ways radio is used and understood reveals the dynamic emergence and transformation of communities within the larger society.
Contributors. Laurence A. Breiner, Bruce B. Campbell, Mary Desjardins, Lauren M. E. Goodlad, Nina Hunteman, Leah Lowe, Adrienne Munich, Kathleen Newman, Martin Spinelli, Susan Merrill Squier, Donald Ulin, Mark Williams, Steve Wurzler
In an innovative cultural history of Argentine movies and radio in the decades before Peronism, Matthew B. Karush demonstrates that competition with jazz and Hollywood cinema shaped Argentina's domestic cultural production in crucial ways, as Argentine producers tried to elevate their offerings to appeal to consumers seduced by North American modernity. At the same time, the transnational marketplace encouraged these producers to compete by marketing "authentic" Argentine culture. Domestic filmmakers, radio and recording entrepreneurs, lyricists, musicians, actors, and screenwriters borrowed heavily from a rich tradition of popular melodrama. Although the resulting mass culture trafficked in conformism and consumerist titillation, it also disseminated versions of national identity that celebrated the virtue and dignity of the poor, while denigrating the wealthy as greedy and mean-spirited. This anti-elitism has been overlooked by historians, who have depicted radio and cinema as instruments of social cohesion and middle-class formation. Analyzing tango and folk songs, film comedies and dramas, radio soap operas, and other genres, Karush argues that the Argentine culture industries generated polarizing images and narratives that provided much of the discursive raw material from which Juan and Eva Perón built their mass movement.
The voice we hear on the radio—the voice with no body attached—is a key element in the history of media in the twentieth century. Before television and the internet, there was radio; and much of what defined the makeup of these newer media was influenced by the way radio was broadcast to people and the way people listened to it.Emergency Broadcasting focuses on key moments in the history of early radio in order to come to an understanding of the role voice played in radio to describe national crises, a fictional invasion from outer space, and general entertainment. Taking the Hindenburg disaster, The War of the Worlds hoax, Franklin Roosevelt's Fireside Chats, and the serial mystery The Shadow as his focal points, Edward Miller illustrates how the radio, for the first time, instantly communicated to a mass audience, and how that communication—where the voice counts more than the image—is still at work today in television and the World Wide Web.Theoretically sophisticated, yet grounded in historical detail, Emergency Broadcasting offers a unique examination of radio and at the same time develops a complex understanding of the media whose birth is owed to the innovations—and disembodied power—established by it.
During the interwar years, broadcast radio became a popular way for Europeans to consume local, national, and international news. The medium not only began to shape European policy and politics, but also laid the foundation for European unification and global interconnectedness. In Europe On Air, Suzanne Lommers has documented the rich and often underexposed history of broadcast radio through the lens of international European relations. She specifically explores the roles of Radio Moscow, Radio Luxembourg, Vatican Radio, and the International Broadcasting Union as institutions that played an important role in national identities and establishing standards for broadcasting. The radio also offered new opportunities to politicians, who seized upon a vibrant and more direct way to communicate with their constituents.
Essential reading for scholars of technology and European history, Europe–On Air reveals broadcast radio to be a technology that revolutionized international relations during the brief respite between the chaos of war in Europe.
The years following World War I in Germany saw the simultaneous emergence of radio as a public medium entering the private sphere of the home and the large-scale emergence of women entering the public sphere of politics and production. In Feminine Frequencies, Kate Lacey examines the mutual implications of these important developments and provides a distinctive analysis of radio in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich which not only restores women to the history of radio, but identifies and investigates the impact of gender politics on the development of German broadcasting.
At the heart of the book is an exploration of radio programming for women from the mid-1920s to the end of World War II. Largely through the Frauenfunk, radio transformed women's domestic life, mediated women's experience of modernity and war, and worked to integrate women into the modern consumer culture, the national economy, and eventually the "national community" of the Volksgemeinschaft. At the same time, decisions about how that programming was to operate influenced the way radio was conceived as a broadcast rather than an interactive technology.
Ultimately, the cultural practice and propaganda of the Third Reich were anticipated in and enabled by the legacy of broadcasting in the Weimar Republic. Feminine Frequencies confronts the consequences of a missed opportunity to harness the democratic potential of a new medium of communication.
Based on original archival research, and interdisciplinary in approach, this book will be of great interest to students and scholars in German studies, women's studies, and media studies.
Kate Lacey is Lecturer in Media Studies, School of European Studies, University of Sussex.
As either observer or participant, radio deejay and political activist Richard E. Stamz witnessed every significant period in the history of blues and jazz in the last century. From performing first-hand as a minstrel in the 1920s to broadcasting Negro League baseball games in a converted 1934 Chrysler to breaking into Chicago radio and activist politics and hosting his own television variety show, the remarkable story of his life also is a window into milestones of African American history throughout the twentieth century.
Dominating the airwaves with his radio show "Open the Door, Richard" on WGES in Chicago, Stamz cultivated friendships with countless music legends, including Willie Dixon, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, Memphis Slim, and Leonard Chess. The pioneering Chicago broadcaster and activist known as "The Crown Prince of Soul" died in 2007 at the age of 101, but not before he related the details of his life and career to college professor Patrick A. Roberts. Give 'Em Soul, Richard! surrounds Stamz's memories of race records, juke joints, and political action in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood with insights on the larger historical trends that were unfolding around him in radio and American history.
Narrated by Stamz, this entertaining and insightful chronicle includes commentary by Roberts as well as reflections on the unlikely friendship and collaboration between a black radio legend and a white academic that resulted in one of the few existing first-hand accounts of Chicago's post-war radio scene.
When Breeze FM, a radio station in the provincial Zambian town of Chipata, hired an elderly retired schoolteacher in 2003, no one anticipated the skyrocketing success that would follow. A self-styled grandfather on air, Gogo Breeze seeks intimacy over the airwaves and dispenses advice on a wide variety of grievances and transgressions. Multiple voices are broadcast and juxtaposed through call-ins and dialogue, but free speech finds its ally in the radio elder who, by allowing people to be heard and supporting their claims, reminds authorities of their obligations toward the disaffected.
Harri Englund provides a masterfully detailed study of this popular radio personality that addresses broad questions of free speech in Zambia and beyond. By drawing on ethnographic insights into political communication, Englund presents multivocal morality as an alternative to dominant Euro-American perspectives, displacing the simplistic notion of voice as individual personal property—an idea common in both policy and activist rhetoric. Instead, Englund focuses on the creativity and polyphony of Zambian radio while raising important questions about hierarchy, elderhood, and ethics in the public sphere.
A lively, engaging portrait of an extraordinary personality, Gogo Breeze will interest Africanists, scholars of radio and mass media, and anyone interested in the history and future of free speech.
The National Barn Dance was the nation's most popular country music radio show during the 1930s and 1940s, essentially defining country and western entertainment until it was supplanted by the Grand Ole Opry and rock 'n' roll in the 1950s. Broadcast for more than three decades from Chicago on WLS's powerful 50,000-watt signal, the show reached listeners throughout the Midwest, the East Coast, and large regions of the South, delivering popular entertainment to rural and urban areas and celebrating the folk traditions that were fading in an increasingly urbanized America.
Drawing on the colorful commentary of performers and former listeners, these essays analyze the National Barn Dance and its audience, trace the history of barn dance radio, explore the paradox of country music in a major urban center, investigate notions of authenticity in the presentation of country music and entertainment, and delve into other provocative issues raised by the barn dance phenomenon.
Contributors are Chad Berry, Michael T. Bertrand, Lisa Krissoff Boehm, Don Cusic, Wayne W. Daniel, Loyal Jones, Kristine M. McCusker, Stephen Parry, Susan Smulyan, Paul L. Tyler, and Michael Ann Williams.
Imagine that there was a time in America when a child sat next to a radio and simply listened. But didn’t just listen, was enthralled and knew that this time was his alone, that he was part of the vortex of drama unfolding inside the radio’s innards. . . . I never saw a punch thrown, or a glass shatter, or a blood-smeared shirt as I listened to the radio. Nor did I know Barbara Stanwyck’s hairstyle as she overacted in Sorry, Wrong Number on the Lux Radio Theatre. And I had no idea how corpulent Happy Felton was as he dropped ten silver dollars that jangled into a Sheffield’s Milk bottle on Guess Who. (Yes, ten bucks was what you won on that show.) Instead, I imagined it all.
I Hid It under the Sheets captures a bygone era—the late 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s—through the reminiscences of award-winning New York Times reporter Gerald Eskenazi. This first-person recollection shows radio’s broad impact on his generation and explains how and why it became such a major factor in shaping America and Americans.
For Eskenazi and his peers, radio had virtually no competition from other forms of media, aside from newspapers. Because of this, radio was able to create a common American culture, something that is not found in today’s multifaceted world. Eskenazi shows how the popular programs of the times—from The Lone Ranger to The Fat Man to The Answer Man—helped create a culture of values (telling the truth, being courteous, being courageous, and being a moral person).
Eskenazi’s personal anecdotes about each program are interspersed with interviews of personalities ranging from Tom Brokaw to Colin Powell about their own experiences with radio. Brokaw, who grew up in South Dakota, found radio brought him closer to the world beyond him. Would he have become the newsman he is today without the radio to pique his imagination?
Eskenazi also shows how important radio was to immigrants seeking to become a part of the American experience. Through radio, even he, a Jewish kid from Brooklyn, could grow up feeling connected to the dominant culture of the times. For those who yearn to remember a time gone by, to laugh at childhood memories, or merely to learn about life during a simpler time, this book is for you.
Outside of music, the importance of sound and listening have been greatly overlooked in Latin American history. Visual media has dominated cultural studies, affording an incomplete record of the modern era. This edited volume presents an original analysis of the role of sound in Latin American and Caribbean societies, from the late nineteenth century to the present. The contributors examine the importance of sound in the purveyance of power, gender roles, race, community, religion, and populism. They also demonstrate how sound is essential to the formation of citizenship and nationalism.
Sonic media, and radio in particular, have become primary tools for contesting political issues. In that vein, the contributors view the control of radio transmission and those who manipulate its content for political gain. Conversely, they show how, in neoliberal climates, radio programs have exposed corruption and provided a voice for activism.
The essays address sonic production in a variety of media: radio; Internet; digital recordings; phonographs; speeches; carnival performances; fireworks festivals, and the reinterpretation of sound in literature. They examine the bodily experience of sound, and its importance to memory coding and identity formation.
This volume looks to sonic media as an essential vehicle for transmitting ideologies, imagined communities, and culture. As the contributors discern, modern technology has made sound ubiquitous, and its study is therefore crucial to understanding the flow of information and influence in Latin America and globally.
Mexican Waves is the fascinating history of how borderlands radio stations shaped the identity of an entire region as they addressed the needs of the local population and fluidly reached across borders to the United States. In so doing, radio stations created a new market of borderlands consumers and worked both within and outside the constraints of Mexican and U.S. laws.
Historian Sonia Robles examines the transnational business practices of Mexican radio entrepreneurs between the Golden Age of radio and the early years of television history. Intersecting Mexican history and diaspora studies with communications studies, this book explains how Mexican radio entrepreneurs targeted the Mexican population in the United States decades before U.S. advertising agencies realized the value of the Spanish-language market.
Robles’s robust transnational research weaves together histories of technology, performance, entrepreneurship, and business into a single story. Examining the programming of northern Mexican commercial radio stations, the book shows how radio stations from Tijuana to Matamoros courted Spanish-language listeners in the U.S. Southwest and local Mexican audiences between 1930 and 1950. Robles deftly demonstrates Mexico’s role in creating the borderlands, adding texture and depth to the story.
Scholars and students of radio, Spanish-language media in the United States, communication studies, Mexican history, and border studies will see how Mexican radio shaped the region’s development and how transnational listening communities used broadcast media’s unique programming to carve out a place for themselves as consumers and citizens of Mexico and the United States.
This unique anthology assembles primary documents chronicling the development of the phonograph, film sound, and the radio. These three sound technologies shaped Americans' relation to music from the late nineteenth century until the end of the Second World War, by which time the technologies were thoroughly integrated into everyday life. There are more than 120 selections between the collection's first piece, an article on the phonograph written by Thomas Edison in 1878, and its last, a column advising listeners "desirous of gaining more from music as presented by the radio." Among the selections are articles from popular and trade publications, advertisements, fan letters, corporate records, fiction, and sheet music. Taken together, the selections capture how the new sound technologies were shaped by developments such as urbanization, the increasing value placed on leisure time, and the rise of the advertising industry. Most importantly, they depict the ways that the new sound technologies were received by real people in particular places and moments in time.
In 1926, the new NBC networks established an advisory board of prominent citizens to help it make program decisions as well as to deflect concerns over NBC’s dominance over radio. The council, which advised NBC on program development—especially cultural broadcasts and those aimed at rural audiences—influenced not only NBC’s policies but also decisions other radio organizations made, decisions that resonate in today’s electronic media
The council’s rulings had wide-ranging impact on society and the radio industry, addressing such issues as radio’s operation in the public interest; access of religious groups to the airwaves; personal attacks on individuals, especially the clergy; and coverage of controversial issues of public importance. Principles adopted in these decrees kept undesirable shows off the air, and other networks, stations, and professional broadcast groups used the council’s decisions in establishing their own organizational guidelines.
Benjamin documents how these decrees had influence well after the council’s demise. Beginning in the early 1930s, the council denied use of NBC to birth control advocates. This refusal revealed a pointed clash between traditional and modernistic elements in American society and laid down principles for broadcasting controversial issues. This policy resonated throughout the next five decades with the implementation of the Fairness Doctrine.
The NBC Advisory Council and Radio Programming, 1926–1945 offers the first in-depth examination of the council, which reflected and shaped American society during the interwar period. Author Louise M. Benjamin tracks the council from its inception until it was quietly disbanded in 1945, insightfully critiquing the council’s influence on broadcast policies, analyzing early attempts at using the medium of radio to achieve political goals, and illustrating the council’s role in the development of program genres, including news, sitcoms, crime drama, soap operas, quiz shows, and variety programs.
Norman Corwin is regarded as the most acclaimed creative artist of radio’s Golden Age (mid 1930s to late 1940s). Corwin worked as a producer for CBS at a time when radio was the centerpiece of American family life. His programs brought high moments to the medium during a period when exceptional creativity and world crisis shaped its character and conviction. Bannerman’s book is more than biography: it is also social history—the story of network radio, its great achievements and ultimate decline. Many of Corwin’s programs are considered radio classics. During World War II his programs energized the people and marshaled morale. We Hold These Truths, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Bill of Rights, was broadcast eight days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and On a Note of Triumph, a VE-Day special for CBS, marked the historic culmination of a momentous conflict. Bannerman’s work is a portrayal of a remarkable man, who led an influential fight for the art and integrity of broadcasting, who endured unfounded accusations during the blacklisting period of the McCarthy era, and who by his dedication accomplished significant programs of historic dimensions.
The golden age of radio is often recalled as a time when the medium unified the nation, when families gathered around the radios in homes across the country to listen to live, commercially sponsored network broadcasts. In Points on the Dial, Alexander Russo revises our understanding of radio’s past by revealing the hidden histories of production, distribution, and reception practices during this era, which extended from the 1920s into the 1950s. Russo brings to light a tiered broadcasting system with intermingling but distinct national, regional, and local programming forms, sponsorship patterns, and methods of program distribution. Examining a wide range of practices, including regional networking, sound-on-disc transcription, the use of station representatives, spot advertising, and programming aimed at homes with several radios, he not only recasts our understanding of the relationship between national networks and local stations but also charts the development of new ways of listening—often distractedly rather than attentively—that set the stage for radio in the second half of the twentieth century.
In this fascinating history of the portable radio, Michael Schiffer shows how this invention is as American as apple pie. Along the way, he tells how technology has responded to consumer preference, how corporate "cryptohistory" has made us believe the Japanese invented the radio, and how the spread of the portable radio mirrors that of other technologies. More than 400 photographs make this book both a definitive resource and a delightful browse.
How has American radio—once a grassroots, community-based medium—become a generic service that primarily benefits owners and shareholders and prohibits its listeners from receiving diversity of opinions, ideas, and entertainment through local programming? In The Quieted Voice: The Rise and Demise of Localism in American Radio, Robert L. Hilliard and Michael C. Keith blame the government’s continual deregulation of radio and the corporate obsession with the bottom line in the wake of the far-reaching and controversial Telecommunications Act of 1996. Fighting for greater democratization of the airwaves, Hilliard and Keith call for a return to localism to save radio from rampant media conglomeration and ever-narrowing music playlists—and to save Americans from corporate and government control of public information.
The Quieted Voice details radio’s obligation to broadcast in the public’s interest. Hilliard and Keith trace the origins of the public trusteeship behind the medium and argue that local programming is essential to the fulfillment of this responsibility. From historical and critical perspectives, they examine the decline of community-centered programming and outline the efforts of media watchdog and special interest groups that have vigorously opposed the decline of democracy and diversity in American radio. They also evaluate the implications of continuing delocalization of the radio medium and survey the perspectives of leading media scholars and experts.
Radio, Morality, and Culture: Britain, Canada, and the United States, 1919–1945 examines the moral controversies surrounding radio’s development during its formative years. In comparing the fledgling medium in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States, Robert S. Fortner documents how the church failed to participate in radio’s moral development and instead engaged in internecine warfare over issues of legitimacy and orthodoxy.
The church was arguing about theological turf and dealing with internal disputes while radio policy was being developed and communications history was being written. Fortner reveals how the church, doomed to play little more than a bit part in the future of radio, eventually lost its voice altogether in the continuing development of electronic media. Fortner effectively synthesizes cultural history and theory, communication studies, and the role religious organizations played in shaping the content and character of early radio. Geared to scholars of history, communications, and theology, Radio, Morality, and Culture provides a useful resource for research, scholarship, and public policy.
The role of mass communication in nation building has often been underestimated, particularly in the case of Mexico. Following the Revolution, the Mexican government used the new medium of radio to promote national identity and build support for the new regime. Joy Hayes now tells how an emerging country became a radio nation.
This groundbreaking book investigates the intersection of radio broadcasting and nation building. Hayes tells how both government-controlled and private radio stations produced programs of distinctly Mexican folk and popular music as a means of drawing the country's regions together and countering the influence of U.S. broadcasts.
Hayes describes how, both during and after the period of cultural revolution, Mexican radio broadcasting was shaped by the clash and collaboration of different social forces--including U.S. interests, Mexican media entrepreneurs, state institutions, and radio audiences. She traces the evolution of Mexican radio in case studies that focus on such subjects as early government broadcasting activities, the role of Mexico City media elites, the "paternal voice" of presidential addresses, and U.S. propaganda during World War II.
More than narrative history, Hayes's study provides an analytical framework for understanding the role of radio in building Mexican nationalism at a critical time in that nation's history. Radio Nation expands our appreciation of an overlooked medium that changed the course of an entire country.
As World War II drew to a close and radio news was popularized through overseas broadcasting, journalists and dramatists began to build upon the unprecedented success of war reporting on the radio by creating audio documentaries. Focusing particularly on the work of radio luminaries such as Edward R. Murrow, Fred Friendly, Norman Corwin, and Erik Barnouw, Radio Utopia: Postwar Audio Documentary in the Public Interest traces this crucial phase in American radio history, significant not only for its timing immediately before television, but also because it bridges the gap between the end of the World Wars and the beginning of the Cold War.
Matthew C. Ehrlich closely examines the production of audio documentaries disseminated by major American commercial broadcast networks CBS, NBC, and ABC from 1945 to 1951. Audio documentary programs educated Americans about juvenile delinquency, slums, race relations, venereal disease, atomic energy, arms control, and other issues of public interest, but they typically stopped short of calling for radical change. Drawing on rare recordings and scripts, Ehrlich traces a crucial phase in the evolution of news documentary, as docudramas featuring actors were supplanted by reality-based programs that took advantage of new recording technology. Paralleling that shift from drama to realism was a shift in liberal thought from dreams of world peace to uneasy adjustments to a cold war mentality.
Influenced by corporate competition and government regulations, radio programming reflected shifts in a range of political thought that included pacifism, liberalism, and McCarthyism. In showing how programming highlighted contradictions within journalism and documentary, Radio Utopia reveals radio's response to the political, economic, and cultural upheaval of the post-war era.
The Shadow. Fibber McGee and Molly. Amos 'n' Andy. When we think back on the golden age of radio, we think of the shows. In Radio Voices, Michele Hilmes looks at the way radio programming influenced and was influenced by the United States of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, tracing the history of the medium from its earliest years through the advent of television.
Hilmes places the development of radio within the context of the turmoils of the 1920s: immigration and urbanization, the rise of mass consumer culture, and the changing boundaries of the public and private spheres. Early practices and structures--the role of the announcer, the emergence of program forms from vaudeville, minstrel shows, and the concert stage--are examined.
Central to Radio Voices is a discussion of programs and their relations to popular understandings of race, ethnicity, and gender in the United States of this era. Hilmes explores Amos 'n' Andy and its negotiations of racial tensions and The Rise of the Goldbergs and its concern with ethnic assimilation. She reflects upon the daytime serials--the first soap operas--arguing that these much-disparaged programs provided a space in which women could discuss conflicted issues of gender. Hilmes also explores industry practices, considering the role of advertising agencies and their areas of conflict and cooperation with the emerging networks as well as the impact of World War II on the "mission" of radio.
Radio Voices places the first truly national medium of the United States in its social context, providing an entertaining account of the interplay between programming and popular culture.
"Radio Voices is the most-cited publication in a recent spate of cultural studies of radio. Hilmes analyzes the early practices and programs of radio-such as the daytime serial drama that would evolve into the soap opera-in relation to the emergence, after World War I, of mass consumerism. She argues that, as the United States rose to world power during the Age of Radio, the medium was crucial in helping to form an American national identity and to blur the boundaries between the public and private spheres." Chronicle of Higher Education
"Hilmes offers a fresh, exciting, path-breaking and insightful history of radio broadcasting. Radio Voices provides an innovative and accessible history of U.S. broadcasting that promises to inspire a new wave of critical cultural analysis of the radio era. Radio Voices may prove to be the most important for the research it promises to inspire by rethinking and enlivening the field of radio history." Journal of Communication
"The title, Radio Voices, is well chosen: the voices of the radio pioneers, which one might too easily assume to be irrecoverable, emerge through the book's frequent extracts from correspondence and scripts. Radio Voices will remind scholars of popular culture of the pleasures and rewards of archival study." Journal of American History
"The author's extensive research has turned up many delicious tales not recounted elsewhere." Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television
Orson Welles’s greatest breakthrough into the popular consciousness occurred in 1938, three years before Citizen Kane, when his War of the Worlds radio broadcast succeeded so spectacularly that terrified listeners believed they were hearing a genuine report of an alien invasion—a landmark in the history of radio’s powerful relationship with its audience. In Radio’s America, Bruce Lenthall documents the enormous impact radio had on the lives of Depression-era Americans and charts the formative years of our modern mass culture.
Many Americans became alienated from their government and economy in the twentieth century, and Lenthall explains that radio’s appeal came from its capability to personalize an increasingly impersonal public arena. His depictions of such figures as proto-Fascist Charles Coughlin and medical quack John Brinkley offer penetrating insight into radio’s use as a persuasive tool, and Lenthall’s book is unique in its exploration of how ordinary Americans made radio a part of their lives. Television inherited radio’s cultural role, and as the voting tallies for American Idol attest, broadcasting continues to occupy a powerfully intimate place in American life. Radio’s America reveals how the connections between power and mass media began.
Winner of the 2022 Broadcast Education Association Book Award
One of the first books to examine the status of broadcasting on its one hundredth anniversary, Radio’s Second Century investigates both vanguard and perennial topics relevant to radio’s past, present, and future. As the radio industry enters its second century of existence, it continues to be a dominant mass medium with almost total listenership saturation despite rapid technological advancements that provide alternatives for consumers. Lasting influences such as on-air personalities, audience behavior, fan relationships, and localism are analyzed as well as contemporary issues including social and digital media. Other essays examine the regulatory concerns that continue to exist for public radio, commercial radio, and community radio, and discuss the hindrances and challenges posed by government regulation with an emphasis on both American and international perspectives. Radio’s impact on cultural hegemony through creative programming content in the areas of religion, ethnic inclusivity, and gender parity is also explored. Taken together, this volume compromises a meaningful insight into the broadcast industry’s continuing power to inform and entertain listeners around the world via its oldest mass medium--radio.
For generations, fans and critics have characterized classic American radio drama as a “theater of the mind.” This book unpacks that characterization by recasting the radio play as an aesthetic object within its unique historical context. In Theater of the Mind, Neil Verma applies an array of critical methods to more than six thousand recordings to produce a vivid new account of radio drama from the Depression to the Cold War.
In this sweeping exploration of dramatic conventions, Verma investigates legendary dramas by the likes of Norman Corwin, Lucille Fletcher, and Wyllis Cooper on key programs ranging from The Columbia Workshop, The Mercury Theater on the Air, and Cavalcade of America to Lights Out!, Suspense, and Dragnet to reveal how these programs promoted and evolved a series of models of the imagination.
With close readings of individual sound effects and charts of broad trends among formats, Verma not only gives us a new account of the most flourishing form of genre fiction in the mid-twentieth century but also presents a powerful case for the central place of the aesthetics of sound in the history of modern experience.
Modeled after the BBC, the Palestine Broadcasting Service was launched in 1936 to serve as the national radio station of Mandate Palestine, playing a pivotal role in shaping the culture of the emerging middle class in the region. Despite its significance, the PBS has become nearly forgotten by scholars of twentieth-century Middle Eastern studies. Drawn extensively from British and Israeli archival sources, “This Is Jerusalem Calling” traces the compelling history of the PBS’s twelve years of operation, illuminating crucial aspects of a period when Jewish and Arab national movements simultaneously took form.
Andrea L. Stanton describes the ways in which the mandate government used broadcasting to cater to varied audiences, including rural Arab listeners, in an attempt to promote a “modern” vision of Arab Palestine as an urbane, politically sophisticated region. In addition to programming designed for the education of the peasantry, religious broadcasting was created to appeal to all three main faith communities in Palestine, which ultimately may have had a disintegrating, separatist effect. Stanton’s research brings to light the manifestation of Britain’s attempts to prepare its mandate state for self-governance while supporting the aims of Zionists. While the PBS did not create the conflict between Arab Palestinians and Zionists, the service reflected, articulated, and magnified such tensions during an era when radio broadcasting was becoming a key communication tool for emerging national identities around the globe.
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.
Radio sparked the massive upsurge of organized labor during the Great Depression. The powerful new medium became an important weapon in the ideological war between labor and business. Corporations used radio to sing the praises of individualism and consumerism, while unions emphasized equal rights, industrial democracy, and social justice.
Elizabeth Fones-Wolf analyzes the battle to utilize, and control, the airwaves in radio's early era. Working chronologically, she explores the advent of local labor radio stations such as WCFL and WEVD, labor's campaigns against corporate censorship, and union experiments with early FM broadcasting. Using union archives and broadcast industry records, Fones-Wolf demonstrates radio's key role in organized labor's efforts to fight business's domination of political discourse throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. She concludes with a look at how labor's virtual disappearance from today's media helps explain why unions have become so marginalized, and offers important historical lessons for revitalizing organized labor.
The crucial decade for the development of the domestic wireless was 1924-34. At the beginning of the period most receivers in Britain were crystal sets, but by the end nearly all sets were on the mains, using valves and mostly with superhet circuits-broadly the same as those in use today.