Radio, Newsreels, Newspapers, and the Presidency
Unable to reconcile his differences with hostile White House correspondents, President Hoover faced a serious communications problem in 1931. As the months passed, Hoover was swept further away from the voters and into a public relations disaster. He needed to change his communications tactics, but he was too stubborn and self-righteous, and his presidency lost its momentum. What he failed to recognize was that new opportunities for communication were emerging all around him. These new media might give him a better opportunity to recapture the admiration that the public had always lavished upon him.
The most obvious new ways to reach the voters in the second half of the Hoover presidency were radio and sound newsreels. These two media were employed effectively from 1933 to 1945 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who also wanted to circumvent caustic editors and publishers. In 1931 with a reelection campaign drawing near and the need for positive imagery obvious, why did Hoover not pursue the same course? The answer lies not only in his inflexibility but also in the development of both radio and newsreel technology.
Radio had cultivated a vast audience by 1931, but mostly the airwaves were filled with advertising and entertainment. News programming was crude and largely confined to local spot stories, live transmission of