After the commercialization of the radio, people no longer had to wait for the publication of a newspaper. Radio broadcast news was running hours before daily papers could be printed and distributed. With broadcast media available seemingly at a moment’s notice, politicians suddenly had a new means for reaching the public.
The first half of the 20th century was the golden era of radio broadcasting. President Coolidge’s pre-election speech was broadcasted to more than 20 million people via radio. Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the radio during his “fireside chats” to communicate with the American people directly and gain support for his New Deal agenda. By 1960, nearly every American home owned a radio that allowed people to listen to music, stories, plays, and news. Newspapers had blanketed the country, but radio came right into the home. And a new era in mass communications was underway. Listen to the following radio broadcast by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the first of his “fireside chats”:
- What difference does it make that everyone can get information about what is happening in government simultaneously?
- The introduction of new mediums of communication change culture. A great example can be seen in sailors and knot making. Sailors, especially in sailing days, were especially adept at making intricate and beautiful knots. Then books became common and inexpensive, and the art of knot-making almost disappeared, along with sails, because to read you needed to use your hands. Then, radio came along, and sailors’ hands and eyes were freed. Knot-making flourished. With the introduction of video, it has again waned. How has the changes in media sources effected your interest in government and politics?
- As the media has changed from town criers, to newspapers, to radio, to TV, and now to internet, what effect do you think it has had on politics? Do you think for instance, that some of the recent scandals in Washington would have been as deep, had the internet not allowed viral sharing of pictures?
This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense Government eBook. Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for use by students and teachers. Click Here to download the Common Sense Government materials.
Screenshot of Franklin D. Roosevelt taken from the video of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chat on Financing the War, 1942. https://qa.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/franklin-d-roosevelt-on-financing-the-war-video