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Radio in the 1930s

America in the 1930s was still reeling from the crash of the stock market and the resulting Great Depression that began in 1929 and that by 1933 had caused one-third of the country's population to become unemployed ("The Great Depression Helps Radio"). This backdrop made radio a much more important component of American life than before, and "Radio infiltrated all aspects of American life, filling it with music, news, entertainment and advertisements" ("The Great Depression Helps Radio"). Unlike the medium of newspaper, which promoted separate readerships among different groups, "The radio brought together the rich and the poor, of every race, nationality or creed in one audience" ("The Great Depression Helps Radio"). As "The first modern mass medium, radio made America into a land of listeners, entertaining and educating, angering and delighting, and joining every age and class into a common culture" (Lewis). Radio enabled "one person with a microphone" to "sow seeds of information, propaganda, entertainment, political and religious fervor, culture, and even hatred across the land" (Lewis). In their world of unemployment and financial lack, 1930s radio brought listeners a break from their troubles and the immediacy of up-to-the-minute news.

In a country ravaged by the Depression and on the brink of World War II, President Roosevelt "used radio to unite a fearful nation and to expand his popular appeal" through his "Fireside Chats" that allowed him to speak to people in their homes (Lewis). He used this medium to explain the banking crisis to distraught Americans who were distressed at not being able to withdraw their money, for example, and his simple explanation illuminated and encouraged them (Lewis).

The immediacy of radio in their own homes had an unexpected effect on people. There was something immensely credible about hearing information come over the airwaves. Author and poet E.B. White is q...

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Radio in the 1930s. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:33, May 19, 2019, from