Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Maps, Illustrations, Figures, and Tables

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

Research for this book was supported by grants from the Australian Research Council, the Australian National University (ANU), and the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Sabbatical residences at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley and the Department of History at the...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xviii

This book explores radio’s influence on interwar political institutions, debate, and theory. Radio emerged during the first two decades of the twentieth century in the wake of the telegraph and the telephone. Unlike its predecessors, however, radio’s ability to transmit information instantaneously was not restrained by the need for poles...

Abbreviations

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p. xix

Part I: Making the Medium, 1895–1940

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1 The Radio Age: The Growth of Radio Broadcasting, 1895–1940

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pp. 3-17

When James Rorty looked back in 1934 on the beginnings of the radio age, he remarked that “radio broadcasting came into the world like a child born too soon and bearing the birthmark of a world culture which may never be achieved.” Radio had emerged amidst high hopes of a new age of enlightenment and communication. Yet it had...

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2 Radio Advertising and Networks

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pp. 18-35

A wide variety of organizations owned the first broadcasting stations. Of the corporate broadcasters, radio and electrical manufacturers had the most obvious interest in fostering broadcasting. Stations such as Westinghouse’s KDKA gave people who bought radios something to listen to. Other early broadcasters used their stations to publicize their products or services, and many businesses were attracted...

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3 Regulatory Models and the Radio Act of 1927

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pp. 36-58

Broadcasting posed a number of challenges to accepted notions of governance and regulation in the United States. Although it appeared to be inherently interstate in its scope, radio also promised to have profound effects upon local communities and individual sensibilities. It also raised questions about freedom of speech, equality of access, and acceptable limits of private control over public information. Exploration...

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4 The Federal Radio Commission, 1927–1934

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pp. 59-77

Republican Representative Grant M. Hudson of Michigan voted reluctantly for the Radio Act of 1927. He objected to the creation of another commission, because “we are now . . . hobbled and controlled by bureaus and commissions. . . . Is there to be no end? Are we to come to the point where 50 per cent of the population will be laboring to support the other 50 per cent in Federal and State Government...

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5 A New Deal for Radio? The Communications Act of 1934

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pp. 78-91

At the end of January 1933 Eugene Coltrane of the National Committee on Education by Radio (NCER) wrote Senator William Borah, one of the FRC’s most vehement critics, an eight-page letter “on the general subject of radio.” Coltrane put forward a sweeping indictment of the ways in which broadcasting had degenerated under the FRC. Unspecified “evil influences” had infiltrated the airwaves; advertisements...

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6 The Federal Communications Commission and Radio, 1934–1940

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pp. 92-110

"Whatever the cause,” Charles Siepmann wrote in 1950, “the fact is irrefutable that, since its inception in 1934, the FCC has used its powers with a discretion that, except on rare occasions, has pleased the industry, as it has provoked the dismay and indignation of radio’s more exacting critics.” Others have been less polite. V. O. Key noted in 19...

Part II: Radio and the Business of Politics, 1920–1940

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7 The Sellers: Stations, Networks, and Political Broadcasting

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pp. 113-139

In October 1922 the Wireless Age announced that broadcasting, then only two years old, had created a new political era. Radio provided Americans with a new form of communication that would bypass the partisanship of newspapers to create a direct bond between voters, candidates, and office holders. Already broadcasting’s potential had...

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8 The Buyers: National Parties, Candidates, and Radio

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pp. 140-166

At the end of March 1922 Republican Senator Harry S. New of Indiana was in a dilemma. While he was in Washington, deliberating over the Naval Disarmament Treaty, his opponents within the Indiana GOP were at work against him. New faced a formidable opponent, former Senator Albert Beveridge, in the forthcoming primary...

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9 The Product: Radio Politics and Campaigning

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pp. 167-185

Charles Merriam of the University of Chicago was the foremost political scientist of the interwar period. He published 13 books, including updated editions of his classic work The American Party System, during the 1920s and 1930s. The 1922 edition of that book did not even mention radio, but within seven years Merriam had become a convert to the political power of radio. His second edition, published in...

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10 The Consumers: Radio, Audiences, and Voters

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pp. 186-202

“Outside the tight frame house, there’s a northeast gale blowing,” John Dos Passos wrote in 1934. The house was full of “dryness, warmth, and light,” but was also “a lonely tangle of needs, worries, desires: how are we going to eat, get clothes to wear . . . raise our children, belong to something, have something belong to us?” After dinner...

Part III: Radio and Citizenship, 1920–1940

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11 Radio and the Problem of Citizenship

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pp. 205-233

Brave pronouncements of a new age of citizenship accompanied the spread of radio broadcasting after 1920. Radio might form new connections between the individual and the community to strengthen those dangerously stretched by urbanization, industrialization, cultural diversity, and regionalism. Workers might better understand their employers through radio; the drift away from the churches might be arrested...

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12 Radio at the Margins: Broadcasting and the Limits of Citizenship

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pp. 234-257

Early in the 1920s Maurice Bradford thanked Harry P. Davis, Vice-president of Westinghouse, for some radio components. “Ye Gods! A Wonderful, wonderful present! I’ll be radio frequencying all night for the next three months!” Although he was “shut off from everything” and isolated from his family, Bradford could now go to baseball...

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13 Radio and the Politics of Good Taste

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pp. 258-278

Broadcasters during the 1920s and 1930s were convinced that they would play a central role in the interaction between the nation and its citizens. But such aspirations were neither socially nor politically neutral. The broadcasters used their influence to guide citizenship in directions that buttressed the existing balance of power within American...

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Conclusion

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pp. 279-284

In retrospect it is clear that 1940 marked the end of an era in radio history. World War II closed twenty years of peacetime development of the broadcasting industry, and imposed new responsibilities and restrictions upon it.1 In 1941 a reinvigorated FCC disrupted the cosy regulatory atmosphere of the interwar years by forcing NBC...

Notes

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pp. 285-328

Bibliography

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pp. 329-350

Index

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pp. 351-362

Library of Congress Information

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