Sound Business: Newspapers, Radio, and the Politics of New Media

By Michael Stamm | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Media Corporations and the Critical Public:
The Struggle over Ownership Diversity in
Postwar Broadcasting

In May 1942, Archibald MacLeish, the poet turned director of the government’s Office of Facts and Figures, addressed the 20th Annual Convention of the National Association of Broadcasters in Cleveland to plead with broadcasters for their assistance in the war effort. MacLeish stated that Americans “do not need exhortation; they do not need and do not want the promises and threats which the Nazi radios pour upon the German people; they do not need and will not abide the hysteria, the false heroics, the brassy rhetoric of the Italian loud-speakers. They need, and want, and are entitled to have the truth; they need and want and are entitled to know what is expected of them, what they are required to do.” It was the task of broadcasters, MacLeish claimed, to rise to the occasion. “You have something to give this war which no other body of men could possibly give it,” MacLeish stated. “You have the inventiveness, and the courage and the imagination which have made American radio one of the great forces of enlightenment in the world. We ask you to mobilize these qualities for the winning of this war.”1

Broadcasters responded eagerly and became active participants in the war effort. Many radio comedies and dramas incorporated war-related themes, broadcasters increased their news coverage of the war and international affairs, and the networks produced a variety of programming to boost domestic

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