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Radio's AmericaThe Great Depression and the Rise of Modern Mass Culture$
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Bruce Lenthall

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226471914

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226471938.001.0001

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“The Story of the Century”

(p.1) Introduction
Radio's America
University of Chicago Press

Orson Welles relished the possibility of finding a voice that might be heard by a vast populace. In a mass society, truly relevant communication had to speak to a mass public, Welles and a cadre of new radio writers and directors believed. Radio could revive the importance of an individual's speech and, more particularly for this artistically ambitious group, art. It embodied the new centralized and standardized mass culture beginning to take hold in the United States in the Depression era. It also brought far off voices and events into the home in a seemingly intimate fashion. As this era began, the modern American broadcasting system was newly up and running. It was during this decade that radio truly attracted a mass audience in the United States. Moreover, the Mercury Theater broadcast hinted at Americans' efforts in the 1930s to find a measure of autonomy in the emerging age.

Keywords:   radio, Orson Welles, mass culture, United States, Depression era, American broadcasting system, Mercury Theater

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