Media Studies and the Possibility of Mass Communication
This chapter investigates the possibility that radio allowed at least a few speakers access to the public arena. Paul Lazarsfeld's own focus on radio evolved through the late 1930s. Researchers around the country gravitated to Lazarsfeld's Office of Radio Research and developed a form of social pragmatism. Herman Hettinger shared Lazarsfeld's hope that mass communication could amplify particular voices, enabling them to be better heard across the country, and to enhance society. Hettinger's vision of radio presented an overlapping alternative to the social pragmatism that dominated academic studies of media. Theodor Adorno suggested that even as radio came to the forefront of American mass culture, there were multiple possible interpretations of that rise and of the possibility of mass communication. To most students, radio proposed a way to enable at least a select few speakers to reach the vast audiences of the twentieth century.
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