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Listening in: Radio and the American Imagination, from Amos 'n' Andy and Edward R. Murrow to Wolfman Jack and Howard Stern
     

Listening in: Radio and the American Imagination, from Amos 'n' Andy and Edward R. Murrow to Wolfman Jack and Howard Stern

by Susan J. Douglas
 

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Few inventions evoke such nostalgia, such deeply personal and vivid memories as radio. Ask anyone born before World War II about radio, and you'll see that person time-travel to the lost world of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Arturo Toscanini; to the jokes of Jack Benny and Burns and Allen; to the sobering commentary of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Edward R.

Overview

Few inventions evoke such nostalgia, such deeply personal and vivid memories as radio. Ask anyone born before World War II about radio, and you'll see that person time-travel to the lost world of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Arturo Toscanini; to the jokes of Jack Benny and Burns and Allen; to the sobering commentary of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Edward R. Murrow. Those born after World War II grew up tuned to Jean Shepherd in the darkness of their bedrooms; cruising with Sam Cooke, the Beatles, or the Doors; talking back to Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, and Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Listening In is the first in-depth history of how radio culture and content have kneaded and expanded the American psyche.

But Listening In is more than a history. It is also a reconsideration of what listening to radio has done to American culture in the twentieth century and how it has brought a completely new auditory dimension to our lives. Susan Douglas explores how listening has altered our day-to-day experiences and our own generational identities, cultivating different modes of listening in different eras; how radio has shaped our views of race, gender roles, ethic barriers, family dynamics, leadership, and the generation gap.

How we listened, where we listened, who we listened to and why: With her trademark wit and erudition, Susan Douglas has created an eminently readable cultural history of radio that fixes its place in our lives as shaper and reflector of our passions and obsessions.




Editorial Reviews

bn.com
Every generation, it seems, listens to radio in a new way. In the 1930s and '40s, radio listening was a communal experience; as often as not, the entire family gathered around to listen to favorite programs. In the postwar years, as television began to usurp the radio as the family gathering place, radio listening became a more solitary and even intimate pursuit. In her new book, Listening in: Radio and the American Imagination, cultural commentator Susan J. Douglas examines the ever-evolving role that radio has played in our society, from its early rise as the dominant broadcast medium of the day to its current role as a sort of town square of the airwaves, a place where we gather to make ourselves heard via talk radio.
Library Journal
It's not just video that killed the radio star but images in general (e.g., TV, the Internet), says Douglas (media and American studies, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor). Douglas argues that through radio Americans can still revive their imaginations. Her thesis will seem obvious to older generations--that listening to the radio shaped the American psyche socially, politically, and economically--but the generations raised on MTV, CNN, ESPN, and personal computers must still be convinced. It may be difficult to draw their attention to a book with only eight photos, but Douglas re-creates the wonder of having an invisible friend (or enemy) in forgotten and fading stars like Jack Benny, Edward R. Murrow, Harry Caray, and Alan Freed. Unfortunately, today radio belongs to overstuffed "suits," overplayed singles, and pinched formats, which can musically and geographically "resegregate" people. Douglas points out that listeners are partly to blame for radio's dismal state. Owners are simply trying to air what their audiences want, but listeners are sending mixed messages: they want variety but lack the imagination to accept it on one station. A persuasive study of the power that radio has had and can still have; essential for all communications collections.--Heather McCormack, "Library Journal"
Kirkus Reviews
An informative and entertaining ride across the country and the radio dial from the 1920s to the present.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812933000
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/04/2000
Edition description:
1 PBK ED
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
6.16(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.14(d)

Meet the Author

Susan J. Douglas, Ph.D., is a professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan -- Ann Arbor. The author of Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media, she lives with her husband and daughter in Ann Arbor.

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