Radio Active: Advertising and Consumer Activism, 1935-1947 / Edition 1

Radio Active: Advertising and Consumer Activism, 1935-1947 / Edition 1

by Kathleen M. Newman
Pub. Date:
University of California Press


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Radio Active: Advertising and Consumer Activism, 1935-1947 / Edition 1

Radio Active tells the story of how radio listeners at the American mid-century were active in their listening practices. While cultural historians have seen this period as one of failed reform—focusing on the failure of activists to win significant changes for commercial radio—Kathy M. Newman argues that the 1930s witnessed the emergence of a symbiotic relationship between advertising and activism. Advertising helped to kindle the consumer activism of union members affiliated with the CIO, middle-class club women, and working-class housewives. Once provoked, these activists became determined to influence—and in some cases eliminate—radio advertising.

As one example of how radio consumption was an active rather than a passive process, Newman cites The Hucksters, Frederick Wakeman's 1946 radio spoof that skewered eccentric sponsors, neurotic account executives, and grating radio jingles. The book sold over 700,000 copies in its first six months and convinced broadcast executives that Americans were unhappy with radio advertising. The Hucksters left its mark on the radio age, showing that radio could inspire collective action and not just passive conformity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520235908
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 05/17/2004
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 250
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Kathy M. Newman is Associate Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University.

Table of Contents

List of Tables

Introduction. The Dialectic between Advertising and Activism

Part I. Cultural Critics in the Age of Radio
Chapter 1. The Psychology of Radio Advertising: Audience
Intellectuals and the Resentment of Radio Commercials
Chapter 2. "Poisons, Potions, and Profits": Radio Activists and the Origins of the Consumer Movement

Part II. Consumers on the March: CIO Boycotts, Active Listeners, and Consumer Time
Chapter 3. The Consumer Revolt of "Mr. Average Man": Boake Carter and the CIO Boycott of Philco Radio
Chapter 4. Washboard Weepers: Women Writers, Women Listeners, and the Debate over Soap Operas
Chapter 5. "I Won’t Buy You Anything But Love, Baby": NBC, Donald Montgomery, and the Postwar Consumer Revolt

Conclusion. High-Class Hucksters: The Rise and Fall of a Radio Republic


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