Adventures in Digital History

Film, Radio, and Television

Well, it’s just about time for my role as a discussion leader. Looking over the material I suggested, I feel like it’s both enough, yet not enough. We were given a huge range of topics to cover, including film, radio, and television. Now, I feel confident because I had the pleasure of taking a class in high school called 20th Century Pop Culture in History (which was coincidentally taught by a UMW alum) and have a decent understanding about all this. The problem is getting it across. Film, radio, and television are all separate entities, yet they still interact with one another in the history of communication. I could honestly talk for hours about the old studio system in the film industry, especially if anyone wants to discuss how a lot of key factors carried over into modern-day Hollywood. I could also talk forever about old television, mainly because I’m a connoisseur of old television shows. I’m also currently writing a research paper on M*A*S*H for HIST 298, so my research into sitcoms is not lacking at the moment. However, I think radio is the one that has me hooked into this topic the most. Why? I love music. I’m sure everyone does on some level, but I really love music. I have this habit of being able to listen to a song that I’ve never heard before and guessing the era. I impressed quite a few people with this talent when I was learning French, because our professor liked playing French pop music in the background. But aside from that, radio simply revolutionized the way in which we communicate with one another. Being able to broadcast messages for others to hear in real-time is simply phenomenal. Imagine living during the Great Depression and you would come home and turn on the radio to hear one of FDR’s Fireside Chats. Imagine hearing a concert live over the radio when you live in another section of the country. Imagine hearing the newest songs from Tin Pan Alley, despite not living remotely close to New York. That’s the power of the radio, which transcends spatial distances to deliver a common message. I was rather happy to discover the FCC had a page celebrating one hundred years of commercial radio. It also warmed my heart to see Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 on the list, because I sometimes listen to reruns on Sunday nights. However, the major reason I think radio is the most important is because it’s always around us. Sure, television and film are always around thanks to smartphones, but radio is ever-present too. Just look at all the radio stations that stream their broadcasts. Look at the other streaming services, like Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, etc. Not to mention that most (if not all) of our cars have a radio built into the dashboard. Radio is an everyday part of our lives, one that I’m glad I get to experience nearly everyday of my life.

Party Radio Sticker by Maïté Franchi for iOS & Android | GIPHY
Party Radio Sticker By Maïté Franchi from Giphy

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