The Savior of the Nation? Regulating Radio in the Interwar Period


Tworek H. The Savior of the Nation? Regulating Radio in the Interwar Period. Journal of Policy History. 2015;27 (3) :465-491.


This article compares American, German, and British radio policy in the interwar period. The three countries ended up in different places by the 1930s, but there were surprising parallels in institutions and attitudes to radio in the 1920s. By taking examples generally seen as representing three different radio systems, this article shows both why media content and national institutional arrangements briefly resembled one another, as well as how political and cultural factors led to divergent paths. Content in these three countries paralleled one another, as did ambitions for radio as a public and private space in the 1920s. The 1930s saw radio trajectories deviate. But they did so over the same issues of news provision, state intervention, and radio’s place in each nation’s international ambitions. Engineers and intellectuals were disappointed by radio’s inability to deliver universal peace. State officials’ visions turned international by 1930, but they too would mostly be disappointed by broadcasting’s inefficacy in influencing foreign populations and global politics. Finally, content creators moved from seeing radio as a medium of elevation through music and education to attempting to cater to more “popular” tastes. Utopianism gave way to pragmatism and propaganda. 

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Last updated on 06/18/2015