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Science on the AirPopularizers and Personalities on Radio and Early Television$
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Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226467597

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226466958.001.0001

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Tuxedos and Microphones

Tuxedos and Microphones

(p.7) Chapter One Tuxedos and Microphones
Science on the Air
University of Chicago Press

In 1923 Austin Hobart Clark, a middle-aged curator in the Smithsonian's U.S. National Museum, began appearing in the program “Smithsonian Radio Talks,” which invited speakers from within his institution's various bureaus. Clark's broadcasts represent one of the first sustained efforts in the United States to use radio to reach the public with science, the first wave in steadily expanding popularization efforts. The circumstances surrounding these pioneering broadcasts illuminate an important moment in the history of science and of American life. From the 1920s through the 1940s, the scientific community became more concerned about scripting its public image for the sake of increased funding and political support, and therefore became more engaged in popularization. The extent to which prestigious researchers in the United States cooperated in and supported ventures involving radio—a medium they regarded as intrinsically sensationalistic—demonstrated begrudging acceptance of the need for popularization.

Keywords:   radio broadcasts, radio programs, science, popularization, Austin Hobart Clark, public image

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