Goldie They were forced to say intelligent ideas, reforms,

Goldie Rockove

Mrs. Ephrathi

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

American History

4 January 2018       



            The radio had a
tremendous impact on American history, changing the way Americans will live
forever. American education, politics, communication, and entertainment were
affected by the invention of the radio.

            The first commercially
licensed radio station in the United States was called KDKA and was situated in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They first broadcasted from the roof of the Westinghouse
Electric factory and on election night that year, KDKA broadcasted Warren G.
Harding’s victory in the presidential election. In 1930, more than forty
percent of American households owned a radio. A decade later, eighty three
percent owned radios. One of Roosevelt’s programs in the New Deal wired up
remote communities and farmsteads, which contributed to the large number of
households with a radio. Many felt that radio brought unity to the United
States (American RadioWorks). Chicago’s first
radio station, KYW and other stations encouraged the unity of different ethnic
groups as each group could listen to programming that interested them (Loviglio). 

            The radio changed
the way Politicians captured their audiences to convince them to vote for them.
Politicians had to be more careful with what they say now because anything they
said was being heard by practically the entire United States and everyone was
listening intently to every word. They were forced to say intelligent ideas,
reforms, and plans for the future as opposed to the insincere, boastful
predictions and twisted facts because millions of people, even the illiterate,
would be listening. Brief and short speeches became important because listeners
could easily turn off the radio without being rude. Before the radio,
candidates catered to their faithful voters, now they spoke to larger audiences
that consisted of the undecided and even the opposing parties (Moore). Once politicians
experienced the power of the radio, they recognized that it was almost
impossible to win the presidential election without campaigning on the radio.
The 1930s and 1940s were times of war and therefore the radio was very
valuable. Presidents of America were able to deliver encouraging speeches to
keep their hopes up and help them survive the challenging times. These speeches
also helped gather support for the President, government, and the war because
people were informed of the current events. Radio managed to virtually bring
together the nation because it created an informed, ideal republic in America (Almuhanna). On radio people
were able to hear the emotions during tragedies. For example, during the Ohio and
Mississippi river floods the interviews on the radio conveyed the pain and
suffering of the victims and everyone was able to hear it. This created
brotherhood in the United States. We were able to feel others pain through
their voices on radio (Brown). Radio’s powerful
influence was most apparent from the reaction of the people from War of the
Worlds broadcast. A summary of the broadcast is that there was an alien
invasion. Many listeners were so caught up by the realism, they believed it was
true. The reaction was people driving into their own garage doors, professors
searching for evidence of the supposed invasion, and people firing gunshots are
a water tower that thought was a Martian landing craft. Although the listeners were
informed that it was fiction, they were still drawn in. such is the power of
the radio. It influenced many people’s thinking with its intimate communication
style (Lubertozzi and Holmsten).

            Radio was used
during wartime to aid in the sale of war bonds and to generate propaganda for
the war. The War Department created a Radio Division in its Bureau of Public
Relations which contained programs such as Treasury Hour, and used radio
drama to raise revenue through the sale of war bonds. Some programs encouraged
listeners to make “personal sacrifices” to win the war, including death (Horowitz).

Government leaders knew that conveying messages through the radio
was successful because millions were able to hear it at the same time. One
leader, President Roosevelt was known for his famous “fireside chats.” Roosevelt,
president during World War II, used the radio to update Americans about the war
and America’s plans. Roosevelt was known to have a great radio voice and his
relaxed approach helped people feel as if he was in their own living room. The
program, This is War!, popularized Roosevelt’s New deal and tried to
“bolster Roosevelt’s image through comparisons with Lincoln” (Horten).
Roosevelt used the radio to his advantage “to explain the unprecedented actions
that his administration was taking to deal with the economic fallout of the
Great Depression. He began speaking on radio only one week after being
inaugurated to explain why he closed all the banks while dealing with the
national banking crisis. Additionally, in politics, radio offered “the ultimate
arena for free speech.” Father Charles Coughlin, a Roman Catholic priest was
famous for his radio program that opposed the New Deal, criticized Jews, and
supported Nazi policies (Davis and Owen). The FCC was created for guidelines for
radio hosts, yet there was still the political advantage of saying whatever
they wanted without fear of rebuttal. The radio covered the news when United
States declared war against Japan and Germany. The radio networks produced
patriotic dramas and variety shows and built departments specifically for
“wall-to-wall coverage of D-Day on June 6, 1944 (American RadioWorks).”

“Radio broadcasting is one of the
greatest educational tools which has ever been placed at the disposal of
civilized man. It is an instantaneous, universal means of communication. It is
not a new art, but is a means of multiplying the efficiency of oral
communication just as the printing press multiplied the effectiveness of the
written word. In addition to that, it has certain decided advantages over the
printed page which in it part supplants and in part supplements (Tyler).”

Many people felt that the radio was beneficial for students in the
classroom because the radio programs could be presented as if they were
textbooks of the air. It was common then for radio programs to be in line with
the general classroom curriculum. Discussions in classrooms began to be about
contemporary progressive ideas based off the programs the children were
listening to at home. Children were exposed to views of society much more
realistic than what was shown in their school books (Lindgren). Broadcasts
including activity sessions were becoming more popular and by the end of 1926
many broadcasts were intended for schools. Students were given instructions for
projects and they could follow along with the step by step guidance on the
broadcasts. The educational broadcasts were not only for children. There were
programs for adult learners as well. “Enquiry into Co-operation” was an adult
educational broadcast, discussing current affairs, and “The National Farm
Forum” was the longest lived adult educational program (Bagley). Radio was extremely
useful during World War II because there was a need to educate many people in a
short amount of time. The audio education was able to educate a large number of
military recruits and the new industrial workers who would replace the military
men when they went off to war. Many believed that America’s victory during
World War II was because of their ability to use the radio. Once people saw how
helpful the radio was, they began to institute it for types of materials in
schools (Treat, Wang and Chadha). It was the hope
that “competent and imaginative teachers in any community can and do use
teaching aids such as school broadcast to stimulate and vivify the classroom
experience of youngsters (Reid).”
Students did not rely solely on their teachers to gain information anymore.

            Many people
criticized the radio’s help in the education field. Teachers began to feel threatened
and feared the radio would take over making teachers almost obsolete. As great as
the radio is, many recognized that educating over radio is different than a regular
classroom. Others disliked the advertisements that came along with the educational
broadcasts. Additionally, many schools did not have the funds to invest in the radio
broadcasts. Also, since there was no recording abilities yet, students and teachers
had to be available at the exact time of the broadcast because otherwise they would
miss the program (Reiser).