Radio's capacity for communication with the masses that composed that world suggested to some that some people could speak meaningfully to the far-flung modern public. Americans could and did make some choices about radio, choices that helped shape their experiences in radio's America. Radio's America coalesced in the 1930s, but became still stronger in the decades that followed. Radio's heir, network television, took broadcasting to new heights, insuring that mass culture would increasingly structure the second half of the twentieth century. Making radio a part of their lives in the Depression, Americans began a process of helping to shape the meanings of their mass culture. It is noted that the journalist Dorothy Thompson, writing on Orson Welles' War of the Worlds, was right: the story of the twentieth century—and perhaps of the twenty-first as well—is the story of the balance between individual authority and mass culture.
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