MAC 212 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Vladimir K. Zworykin, Federal Radio Commission, Gracie Allen

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1. Broadcasting’s Beginnings
a. Early radio is not just about policy, technology, and programs, but also about the
idea that radio would unite America
b. Three Stages in Early Radio History
i. Stage 1 - Beginnings (1906-1920s)
1. Shift from a two way, democratic exchange to a regulated
communication
a. Begins with “free” access to anyone who could broadcast
i. Anyone who wanted to broadcast had the
opportunity to, as well as listening to broadcasts
ii. Amateurs innovated broadcasting content
1. It was just regular people who were creating
content, not professional journalists
iii. Listen and transmit
b. Contemporary Comparisons
i. Social Media platforms
1. Consumers were also creators
2. Over time, things have become much more
corporate
3. Ex: Youtube
a. Started as mostly regular people with
a camera who wanted to make
content, however, it has turned into a
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more professional environment and
has attracted corporate entities to
sponsoring and creating Youtube
channels of their own
2. Ends with federal laws about who can broadcast and what they can
broadcast
a. Radio Act of 1912 - all radio stations must be licensed by
the federal government
b. 1920s radio conferences
i. Gave airways to military and big business,
marginalizing radio amateurs
ii. Amateurs could only talk
ii. Stage 2 - Rise of Radio Corporation of America (1919)
1. Federally mandated patent pool -- GE, AT&T, Westinghouse
a. To advance technology
b. To avoid foreign control of radio
i. Product of national fears after WW1
c. Result:
i. Government enabled dominance of large media
corporations
iii. Stage 3 - Commercial Broadcasting
1. Begins with companies using stations for profit
a. Westinghouse creates KDKA in 1920 (radio sales)
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i. World’s first commercial broadcasting station
b. AT&T starts WEAF in 1922 (toll broadcasting)
i. Important shift in commercial broadcasting
ii. Toll broadcasting = selling spots on the radio
1. Giving companies a chance to put out their
own unique content, usually as a creative
way of advertising
2. Ends with a national network system supported by advertising
2. Radio and Unity
a. Radio was seen as a unifying force, tasked with “creating americans”
i. High rates of immigration
ii. High rates of migration to cities (urbanization)
1. Modernity
a. Traits of being modern
i. Lived in city
ii. Progressive
b. Four Types of Unity
i. Physical
1. Connect people from different places with simultaneous
programming
a. BUT: How to keep socially distinct groups apart?
ii. Cultural
1. Create/Reinforce shared interests and tastes
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