Radio had a great effect on society having a push-pull effect on culture, war, and discourse. During World War I, the United States military adopted radio communication to a higher degree (Fang, 1997). Airplanes were equipped radios for pilots to radio back the coordinates of spotted artillery and other incoming enemy vehicle. Other major world military powers adopted the radio as a strategic tool in war campaigns. In the Russo-Japanese war in 1904, the Russian and Japanese nations deployed the use of radio, but not at an even scale in terms of quality or competency (Fang, 1997). The Japanese navy sunk most of the Russian fleets by radioing back spotted Russian ships and were able to turn back their advances. The Russian navy had turned off their radio transmission during their advancements (1997). It proved the radio has great utility and effectiveness in communication during wartime events. As the telegraph have done in affecting the American Civil War, radio affected war campaigns in the early 20th century and beyond.
Radios in homes also created a new culture in American society. It was a new form of entertainment for American families to commune together and listen to their favorite radio programs with each other (Briggs & Burke, 2009; Fang, 1997). It created a new tradition across households who were able to afford the radio receiving device. It expanded further by isolating individual members with the introduction of headphones creating a new social structure in American society (Fang, 1997).
There were critiques of how radio became a force that would disrupt American culture and discourse. Being critical of radio, public intellectuals worried how radio was a one sided conversation without having an opposing view, and African Americans in particular were very critical on racially driven discourse radio produced in the 1930’s (Briggs & Burke, 2009; Fang, 1997; Jowett & O’Donnell, 2006; Lenthall, 2007). Fundamentally, the critics feared the centralized control of information and culture, turning listeners in to consumerists and cultivating discourse in a homogenous fashion. Jerome Davis, a leftist critical of radio stated “Whoever owns the agencies of distribution of ideas is most likely to control the people” (Fang 1997, p. 32). It is a premonition that had some validity as agenda setting theory was formulated by Dr. McCombs and Dr. Shaw which theorized mass media has the ability to influence public discourse and topics, setting the public agenda.
Even if some members of society didn’t own a radio, their reality was reshaped by radio’s new mass culture as radio has become a part of the American way of life, whether approved of it use or couldn’t afford to purchase one(Briggs & Burke, 2009; Fang, 1997; Jowett & O’Donnell, 2006). Meaning was created from the air waves as listeners did more than just listen, but interacted with radio programs by making it a part of daily lives and writing letters to the programmers...