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310 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 educational programming to be awarded to independent provincial corporations like Alberta=s ACCESS and Ontario=s TVO. This book will appeal to all who resent the formulaic blandness of mass broadcasting and are prepared to support more imaginative or thoughtful alternatives. It is they who keep PBS and National Public Radio and TVO going, who provide CBC radio with its loyal and demanding following. It explains why Toronto=s CJRT-FM was able to survive its own sudden loss of government funding in 1996 and carry on successfully as JAZZ-FM. And even if you=re not a world beat fan, or a devotee of Zoot Sims, it=s hard not to admire the slightly zany courage with which CKUA has, against heavy odds, succeeded in sticking to the road less travelled. (TERENCE GRIER) Gerd Horten. Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda during World War II University of California Press. xiv, 218. US $45.00 Strangely, the deeply commercial nature of the American broadcasting system has been in recent years a source of perpetual astonishment to scholars of broadcasting, the latest round probably beginning with Robert McChesney=s pioneering 1993 study of the period from the late 1920s to the mid-1930s. This astonishment may be surprising to us in this country, where we do, for various reasons, benefit from some slight remove from the full onslaught of American commercialism. This is by no means to impugn United States broadcasting scholarship; on the contrary, the work of McChesney, Susan Douglas, Michelle Himes, Susan Smulyan, and others deserves full credit for their accomplishments. In this sense, Gerd Horten=s Radio Goes to War also fully merits a worthy place amid these contemporary pioneers of broadcasting history. Still, as he points out, this work has hardly scratched the surface, for one because no other medium changed the everyday lives of Americans as quickly as radio did. Radio was America=s primary medium until the end of the Second World War: 90 per cent of American families owned at least one radio set and listened to it for three to four hours a day. During the war years, radio made Americans as a people as well informed as they would ever be. The extensive reach of radio, however, led to what Horten terms a >cultural politics,= and it is analysing this that is the focus of his study, which first began as his dissertation at Berkeley ten years ago; Horten currently teaches history at Concordia University in Montreal. In the process of radio=s rise to media dominance, a process accelerated by its contribution to the American war effort and the use of radio for propaganda purposes, Horten argues that it created >an increasingly narrow consensus that dominated the cultural sphere.= The key transformation that he focuses on is the reaffirmation of corporate dominance over the civic sphere, a reaffirmation that began with the New Deal and intensified with humanities 311 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 the American entry into the war and the waning of the New Deal by 1942B43. Perhaps Horten=s most interesting set of claims is that this new corporate dominance translated into what he terms >the privatization of war.= In this light, United States wartime propaganda predominantly took the form of an appeal to American soldiers >to defend private interests and discharge private obligations.= This can be seen, for example, in the widespread dissemination of the famed Betty Grable pin-up, whose appeal typified for white soldiers an image of American womanhood as model girlfriend, wife, and ultimately mother. Even more strongly stated, American wartime propaganda, in the hands of the advertising industry types and other members of the corporate elite who ran the show, became less an idea of national sacrifice, say, than a sensational, privatized consumerist defence of the American system of free enterprise. By intertwining wartime sacrifice with the self-interest of American business, the free enterprise system promised that the postwar era would richly make up for hardship and deprivation. In short, the drive towards privatization and commercialization provided...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 310-311
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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