RADIO IN THE 1920s


Radios were mass produced to keep up with the popular demand. Radios were engineered with devices called vacuum tubes (Griffis 92). This is how technology in the 1920s played a vital role in Americas economic and cultural “good times” (“Social Issues, 1920-1929” Web). The first publically broadcasting station, KDKA, was based out of Pittsburg. The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), was established in 1927and had its own network of 49 affiliate stations (Drowne 239). The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) was formed by The Radio Corporation (RCA). The radio and motion pictures contributed to the American culture and the standardization of American popular culture.
Vacuum tubes were used in the mass production of the radios (Griffis 92). Music was the most popular form of radio entertainment (Drowne 240). Music was the most popular form of entertainment broadcasted on the radio, many stations played live bands and musicians. There were also lectures, dramas, and comedy shows (Hanson XX). Most restaurants played the radio over their public announcement systems so their customers could hear the programs they played (Griffis 93). Radios were the most popular way to receive the news and listen to music. Sports were also commentated on the radio, so fans could enjoy the game from their own couch (Hanson 85). “This was a period of remarkable transformation” (Cooley Web).

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The invention of the radio was an inspirational one, technology was everywhere. The use of machinery on farms was huge. There was an exponential growth of machines that were replacing labor workers (“Social Issues, 1920-1929” Web). In 1902, 8% of households had power, by 1930, 68.2% had power (“The Soaring Twenties” Web). In the 1920s, Americans were the first to use the radio for electric phonographs, and listen to commercial radio broadcasts (“The Consumer Economy and Mass Entertainment” 1).Many Americans in the 1920s relied on the radio to fill their free time (Drowne 242). It became part of the Americans daily routines. “Groups of young people rolled up the rug, moved furniture out of the way, and danced to the latest jazz sounds on the radio” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the radio to broadcast informal talks the he called “fireside chats” (Griffis 93). The radio and motion pictures contributed to the American culture and the standardization of American popular culture (Drowne 242).
Sales of radios in the 1920s ranged from $60 million in 1922 to $426 million in 1929 (“The Formation of Modern American Mass Culture” Web). By the end of the 1920s, more than 12 million families in America had a radio (Hanson 84). The most popular ads were about musicals by big corporations. And generated humongous revenue (Drowne 240). There were now advertisements reaching more than 10 million households by 1929 (“The Formation of Modern American Mass Culture” Web). Ads were great, but, false advertisements created a sense of

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ignorance with Americans about anything that was lousy. (“The Impact of Technology on 1920s Life” Web).