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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Friday, July 27 2001

The broadcasting age

Yesterday's entry on the days when radio was the dominant advertising-based entertainment medium was written as the exercise in my Tuesday night writers group. I thought it would be worth a shot and then go on, but my fellow writers were so enthusiastic for the topic and so sure it would generate feedback that even though I still haven't had any feedback on it, I've decided to extend it at least for a second time.

From seeing movies like Barbra Streisan's Funny Lady and hearing my parents and their peers discussing the era, it seems that the 1940s were the heyday of radio and an exciting time for mass communication in general and broadcasting especially. Radio started as an emergency communications alternative to the telephone, intended mainly for ship to shore contact, and almost accidentally was "discovered" for having great mass communications, entertainment, and advertising properties. We Western Pennsylvanians are duly proud of the role Pittsburgh's late great Westinghouse Electric played in the development of those opportunities, with KDKA being the first commercial broadcast station.

My political values lean toward the egalitarian and libertarian (less government—and in business, less power—is generally better), so I'm happy that for some years now the iron grip of three major broadcast networks has been loosened by many other forms of competition. But in the '40s and through the '50s the strength of NBC, CBS, and ABC (and to a lesser extent, Mutual and DuMont) seemed pervasive and even threatening in a kind of fascist way. So strong was NBC in its early years, for example, that the government mandated its breakup, which resulted in the launch of ABC to continue many of the holdings of NBC's "second" network. And the announcement earlier this week that Disney, owner of ABC, will take over Fox's Family International channels is strong evidence that power seems to consolidate and seek ever more power.

Some shows of the '40s and '50s seemed to hold almost infinite power over the masses. In television's early years, Kate Smith had both an afternoon show daily, and a prime-time show each week. Arthur Godfrey was even more powerful, with daily TV and radio talk shows in daytime and a prime-time show one night a week. I never knew what the appeal was, but many people almost swooned at the sound of his voice. Ironically, however, CBS finally "cut him loose" and he lived on for many years afterward in almost ignominity. NBC's Dave Garroway was also at the top of his field for some years but fell into disfavor and later claimed his life had been ruined by such treatment.

I hope these conversation starters, and especially Wednesday's, jog loose some feedback. If not, this being my last entry for this week, we'll turn to another subject on Monday.


Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Martha Stewart's Way vs. My Way
(collect all 19)

Martha's way #10: Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks. My way: Celery? Never heard of the stuff.

Martha's way #11: Brush some beaten egg white over pie crust before baking to yield a beautiful glossy finish. My way: The Mrs. Smith frozen pie directions do not include brushing egg whites over the crust and so I don't do it.

Martha's way #12: Place a slice of apple in hardened brown sugar to soften it. My Way: Brown sugar is supposed to be "soft"?

Sent by Bonnie Turner


God never asks about our ability or inability - just our availability.

Sent by Zan

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