Popular Culture Essay

1694 words - 7 pages

In the book Don't Touch That Dial!, by J. Fred MacDonald, we saw how radio was programmed in American Life from 1920 to 1960. Fred MacDonald's professional affiliation is MacDonald & Associates which is a Chicago-based historical film archive, and is the largest stock footage house in the U.S. and completely privately-owned. MacDonald's book is a fascinating, rich account of the radio world for forty years and focuses on the story of America's great love affair with radio broadcasting. For many Americans in the 20th century, radio was an amazing invention. It was the first broadcast medium that people could access easily and cheaply within their own home. MacDonald argued against the fact that radio programming was bad. He believed that "radio brought current events and entertainment directly into the home and required little of a listener except time and imagination." It was often called a "theater of the mind" because broadcasting, was fully realized only in the mind of the listener. With just a twist of the dial, a listener could tune in the greatest personalities in world affairs and show business.
Other people, believed that radio programming was bad and the rapid spread of radio listeners lead them to inevitable confusion. American listeners Endured things like static, transmission interference, commercials, shows they did not enjoy, and a great amount of family argumentation over control over the receiver. Many programs overlapped. Listeners of one program were frequently interrupted by overlapping programs. Many also felt that because radio can't transmit videos or images, it lacks the movement and color of visual media forms. Radio also does not transmit text, which makes it difficult to communicate information that's needed as a permanent reference, like addresses and directions. Throughout this book, we will see how MacDonald has argued against this bias of Americans feeling that radio programming was not good.
J. Fred MacDonald uses primary sources to support his evidence of positive radio programming. Coverage of current events was a part of radio programming since the 1920s. In July, 1925, station WGN made great studies when it broadcasted live coverage of the so-called "Scopes Monkey Trial" from Dayton, Tennessee. In this play, a young announcer from WGN radio in Chicago played the role of his real life predecessor. This was so important because it was the first live broadcast of a trial in American history. Another example of a primary source was war messages and people would often sit around the radio to listen to President Roosevelt’s war messages during the time of World War II. This communication through commercial radio brought the new World War directly into the living rooms of the American people. The events leading to the war had been covered by radio from the crises to the speeches, to the threats and the battles. Radio would now continue to function as the principal source of information for the nation. All of these...

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