Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda during World War II

Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda during World War II

Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda during World War II

Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda during World War II

Synopsis

"By focusing on the medium of radio during World War II, Horten has provided us with a window into an important change in radio broadcasting that has previously been ignored by historians. The depth of research, the book's contribution to our understanding of radio and the war make "Radio Goes to War an outstanding work."--Lary May, author of "The Big Tomorrow: Hollywood and the Politics of the American Way

"Radio broadcasting, and its impact on American life, still remains a neglected area of our national history. "Radio Goes to War demonstrates conclusively how short-sighted that omission is. As we enter what is sure to be another era of contested claims of government control over freedom of speech, the controversies and compromises of wartime broadcasting sixty years ago provide an ominous example of difficult decisions to be made in the future. The alliance of big business, advertising, and wartime propaganda that Horten so convincingly illuminates takes on a heightened significance, especially as this relationship has tightened in the last several decades. When radio and television go to war again, will they follow the same course? This is cautionary reading for our new century."--Michele Hilmes, author of "Radio Voices: American Broadcasting 1922-1952

Excerpt

Within historical writing, radio is finally beginning to gain the recognition it deserves. “Radio” here refers to old-time radio, the “golden age” of broadcasting of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. As a number of media historians have pointed out, this development is long overdue, since radio established the basic structure of broadcasting within which television is still operating. Moreover, most cultural genres offered on television nowadays were pioneered during the radio age. Americans were acculturated to national broadcasting and around-the-clock commercial programming during this same period. As we are beginning to realize, this increased interest in radio history not only tells us about the central importance of radio but also helps us discover new and intriguing aspects of the broader American story.

In general, what is becoming apparent is that we cannot fully understand American society from the 1920s to the late 1940s until there are more studies on radio's impact and its interaction with the society and culture at large. For one thing, no other medium changed the everyday lives of Americans as quickly and irrevocably as radio. By the early 1940s, radio fulfilled more tasks than any other medium. It entertained large national audiences while selling the products of commercial sponsors. It provided national and international news coverage, and during World War II it made Americans—as a people—as well informed as they ever had been. In addition, it provided both national and local programs for special interest groups, foreign-language broadcasts for immigrants, programs by minority civic groups, crop prices and weather forecasts for farmers, sports broadcasting, adventure stories for children, and mu-

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