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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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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 29 July 2021

Radio's Democracy

Radio's Democracy

The Politics of the Fireside

(p.83) 3 Radio's Democracy
Radio's America
University of Chicago Press

This chapter evaluates radio democracy. The new radio democracy relied on mass communication and listeners' abilities to personalize it in order to adapt broadly democratic principles to fit a mass society. Radio's democracy offered those listeners a way to count in the world and in public discussion. Franklin Roosevelt's radio presence provided crucial raw materials out of which many listeners constructed broadcasting's political meanings for the 1930s and beyond. Roosevelt was hardly the only politician seeking to connect with listeners through the air. His intimate radio style had created a personal bond; it drew Reese Farnell to the government and won his loyalty for Roosevelt. Broadcasting helped develop an environment in which listeners could easily watch, listen to, and cheer or boo the political process. The radio democracy that emerged from the 1930s was one often practiced apart from other people, in which democratic participation could mean private spectatorship.

Keywords:   radio, democracy, mass communication, listeners, democratic principles, Franklin Roosevelt, broadcasting, Reese Farnell

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