NBC: America's Network

NBC: America's Network

NBC: America's Network

NBC: America's Network

Synopsis

Spanning eight decades from the beginnings of commercial radio to the current era of international consolidation and emerging digital platforms, this pioneering volume illuminates the entire course of American broadcasting by offering the first comprehensive history of a major network. Bringing together wide-ranging original articles by leading scholars and industry insiders, it offers a comprehensive view of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) that brings into focus the development of this key American institution and the ways that it has intersected with, and influenced, the central events of our times. Programs, policy, industry practices and personnel, politics, audiences, marketing, and global influence all come into play. The story the book tells is not just about broadcasting but about a nation's attempt to construct itself as a culture--with all the underlying concerns, divisions, opportunities, and pleasures. Based on unprecedented research in the extensive NBC archives, NBC: America's Network includes a timeline of NBC's and broadcasting's development, making it a valuable resource for students and scholars as well as for anyone interested the history of media in the United States.

Excerpt

Michele Hilmes

The late 1910s and early 1920s were a period of immense social and political upheaval in the United States, and indeed across the globe. Immigration, nativism, World War I, the newfound power of women, migration from farms to cities, the growth and problems of urban life, and a growing popular culture challenged nineteenthcentury Progressive notions of assimilation and control. Entertainment industries like publishing, advertising, sports, movies, and vaudeville rose up to amuse, inform, cajole, and educate the increasingly polyglot breed of Americans. a new kind of popular culture developed at the grassroots level that many, especially the established elites, feared and resisted. Mass communication began to be recognized as a powerful new social phenomenon in an atmosphere of expanding democracy and social instability.

The advent of radio drew on and affected all these trends. Far from arriving as a finished, uncontroversial technology that could be easily adopted by existing structures and hierarchies, radio stirred up conflicts, offered competing uses, provoked struggles over whose interests would prevail, and raised fears about the dangerous cultural forces that might be unleashed by this invisible medium of connection and communication. Out of these many forces radio broadcasting arose as a vital and necessary participant in the American experience. in chapter 1, “NBC and the Network Idea: Defining the ‘American System,’” Michele Hilmes places nbc in the context of these large social, political, and cultural forces and shows the role played by America’s first network in building up the United States’ unique system of commercial network broadcasting.

In the period between the formation of rca in 1919 and the founding of nbc in 1926, radio broadcasting emerged from its previous domain in the garages and attics of the amateurs and became a truly American social practice. Joining the social upheavals and disturbances of the Jazz Age, a time of rising affluence, increasing social tensions, technological advancement, and cultural experimentation, radio . . .

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