Abstract

Beginning in the late 1920s, loudspeaker technology transformed the American soundscape. Through applications such as storefront radios, sound trucks, and transcast radio in modes of public transportation, advertisers, political parties, and religious organizations used this new medium to capture and hold the attention of nearby listeners. Seeking to expand upon existing theoretical models by scholars such as Jacques Attali and Karin Bijsterveld, this piece focuses on sound trucks and the contested use of soundscapes by powerful interest groups and organizations for the delivery of amplified commercial and political oratory. As sound trucks became widespread, unwilling listeners quickly pushed for their regulation arguing that freedom of speech did not invest the speaker with the right to force the attention of captive audiences nor to invade others’ sonic privacy. These debates culminated in two U.S. Supreme Court cases in 1948 and 1949.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 761-780
Launched on MUSE
2011-09-15
Open Access
No
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