War on the Radio

Elmer Davis delivering the news (ca. 1943)

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Podcasts might be the most popular way to hear news and entertainment today, but in fact, they’re a retrofitting of the world’s oldest broadcast medium: radio. In 1901, the first radio waves were transmitted more than 2,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, ushering in a new era of mass communication.

For our students, podcasts are a great entry point for understanding the origins of mass communications technologies. The ability to “tune in” to news, politics, and commentary fundamentally changed the way people viewed the world in the early 20th century. At a time of major crises including the Great Depression and World War II, radio also provided governments with the ability to speak to millions of people at the same time.

As a result, early radio broadcasts were also an experiment in government propaganda.

Show your students the effects of radio broadcasting during World War II with this article, “War on the Radio”:

This article is part of ABC-CLIO’s Pop Culture Universe: Icons, Idols, Ideas database, a platform for teaching American history through cultural lenses of literature, radio, television, film, fashion, sports, technology, and more! Click here to activate your free preview of this database and gain access to:

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