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Radio and Society. Society before radio . Mostly local for thousands of years Print opened up the world, but not to a lot of people People made their own entertainment: Reading Conversation Parlor games musicales. Sheet music a big seller. If you left home. Live theatre Vaudeville

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Mostly local for thousands of years
  • Print opened up the world, but not to a lot of people
  • People made their own entertainment:
    • Reading
    • Conversation
    • Parlor games
    • musicales
if you left home
If you left home
  • Live theatre
  • Vaudeville
  • Lectures
  • Concerts in the park
  • Fairs and festivals
  • The beach
the world became a noisy place
The world became a noisy place
  • Radios in homes
  • Radios in restaurants and bars
  • Radios in cars
  • Radio played outside businesses
Prior to radio, communication was point to point
  • It was one voice reaching one person at a time
    • Books
    • Letters
    • Telegrams
  • Movies could reach tens or hundreds at a time, but it required affirmative action on the part of the audience
one voice many ears
One voice, many ears
  • For the first time, one voice could be heard by millions of people at a time
demagoguery in action
Demagoguery in Action
  • One of the most popular radio speakers of the 1930s
    • Up to a third of the nation listened to him
  • Delivered a populist message
  • Supported Hitler’s campaign against communism and Jews
  • Coughlin’s message resulted in --
restrictions on radio
Restrictions on radio
  • U.S. government decided that the First Amendment didn’t apply to radio broadcasts
    • The airwaves are a “limited natural resource” and should be regulated
    • Radio stations now needed to have operating permits (Coughlin was denied a permit)
    • National Association of Broadcasters ruled that there should be "rigid limitations on the sale of radio time to spokesmen of controversial public issues"
Sold the cure for many medical problems, especially sexual problems –

Goat Glands

Quickly realized the value of radio as an advertising medium

Opened a 1000 watt station in Kansas to promote his “cures”
  • Was denied a license in 1930 because he didn’t broadcast in the public interest but only for private gain
  • Appealed on grounds of censorship
  • Lost the appeal: past programming could be considered without it being considered censorship
brinkley opened new station
Brinkley opened new station
  • Across the border in Mexico
  • Programming sent across from the US on phone lines
  • Pumped out 500,000 watts – could be heard in Russia
Led to new regulations – the Brinkley Act:
    • Any station broadcasting from Mexico but originating in the US had to be licensed by the US
    • Put Brinkley out of business
Radio was mostly entertainment
  • New forms of music became popular
    • Blues
    • Jazz
    • Country
fiddlin john carson
Fiddlin’ John Carson
  • 1923
  • “little Old Log Cabin in the Lane” became first country hit
For 20 years the country was bound together by a common source of information and social norms – the radio