Cheap newspapers had been the new mass medium of the nineteenth century. Baseball owners gradually reached a mutually beneficial accommodation with the medium. During the 1920s a new mass medium arose: radio. By the end of the Depression era another mass medium, television, threatened to supplant radio.
Baseball owners were not sure how to deal with radio broadcasts of games. Some owners believed that radio broadcasts would strengthen their drawing power, as broadcasts would serve as a form of advertising and would whet the fans’ appetite for tickets. Other owners feared that radio broadcasts would be too good a substitute for actual attendance at a game and would decrease the gate. Some observers disagreed with the idea that a broadcast could substitute for attending in person. Sportswriter Harry Hartman claimed that, “A sport fan will not be content with a broadcast if he is able to attend… [but if for any reason a fan is not able to attend a sporting event, he tunes in and remains sport conscious.”1 Another observer wrote, “Their show [baseball games] is a spectacle. It isn’t something to be heard, but to be seen. Only the ear properly attuned can hear at a baseball game and become rhapsodized.”2
Entrepreneurs had already broadcast games using telegraphs and large billboards. These endeavors often attracted large crowds on city streets. There was, of course, a delay between the action and the reporting. In many cases, radio broadcasts suffered from similar delays.