Monday, September 24, 2012

Reading for week of Sept. 24: Wu, Tim. Ch. 5 in The Master Switch; Giddins, Gary. “This Guy Wouldn’t Give You The Parsley Off His Fish” (half the class), McFadden, Margaret T. “America's Boy Friend Who Can't Get a Date” (half the class). Post thoughts about the reading here for discussion.


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  2. It really struck me how this chapter outline the process by which broadcasting became a competition. "Advertising made rivals of onetime friends; commerical and nonprofit radio," (Wu 77). Everything in this country, and even this world, is a competition. Everyone is fighting to get ahead and make more money than the guy sitting next to him. No one can be happy with what they have created; they always need more.
    Times seemed so simple when radio was first created. Families sat around each other and enjoyed the company of a good program. I understand the need to create the different networks, NBS being the first. It definitely seemed more efficient and time worthy. However, I believe things started to go "down hill" when this brought on advertising.
    Because AT&T and different network owners were so concerned about being the most popular, I think they forgot the beginnings of radio. The networks were no longer concerned about providing the best entertainment or bringing the most enjoyment to families. No, they were concerned about bringing in the most money.
    It's even worse today. TV and radio programming has gone down the drain so hard with all the reality shows. They're cheap to make but bring in a lot of revenue.
    I think broadcasting needs to take a step back and remember what it was like for people in the very beginnings of radio. They enjoyed the simplicity of it.

  3. The first major radio advertisement is hilarious. Who would want to leave Manhattan? That's just crazy. I think it's unrealistic of Hoover to not want radio advertisements in a country that is built and thrive on capitalism (well, less than thriving during his presidential term, but nonetheless). Also, NBC's first broadcast promised they had no intention of becoming a monopoly; but again, in a capitalist society, there is always a constant fight to be #1.

    The idea that the Federal Radio Commission chose less, high powered stations over more, lower powered stations speaks to America's desire for the biggest, the best, and the newest in technology, even in the 1930s.

  4. Advertisements are what keeps media afloat. Besides the messages they send, as far as what to buy etc. they provide money to the station to keep it running. I agree with Alex that it is unrealistic for Hoover not to want radio ads, simply because that is how radio stations make money. If the government funds radio stations then you are going to have biased, pro government radio. The only other option is publicly funded radio like NPR, and while I think that they have decent programs, not to many people who listen to the radio for entertainment tune in to those stations.

    The beginning of radio advertising marks the start of newspaper decline. As our 200 professors would be glad that we know, radio ads provided people another way to advertise rather than the newspaper classifieds. When they don't bring that money in, their total revenue goes downhill.

  5. It's awesome that David Sarnoff and AT&T were in a battle to the death over the national broadcasts! The best is that you would have never known thanks to privacy laws. Maybe this is nerdy but the fact that scholars had to come back decades later and dig all that information up is just too cool. Also the fact that Herbert Hoover was so naive as to think that healthy competition could exist based on inherently good human nature is just crazy. Didn't he ever meet another businessman? It seems like 90% of them, especially in an era ruled by these ruthless mega companies and CEO's like David Sarnoff, were all out for themselves and the biggest profit. Very cool reading with some great insight into AT&T's attempts to take over American communications and how David Sarnoff played an unlikely hero in abolishing what could have been a scary monopoly.

  6. After reading just the beginning of this chapter, I gaped! Was there ACTUALLY a time when the President didn't believe in commercializing radio!? Last night, I worked the 10pm-2am shift at the radio station and the most important thing to do is MAKE SURE THE COMMERCIALS PLAY! That's the money!

    For a moment I thought wow, there was a point in time where the leader of the country wanted pure and genuine radio only. And no interference of advertisements. But that's not how America works.

    But now, advertisements are what get people involved in the economy itself. They are what actually stimulate people and help manage what people buy and the supply and demand.

    A company can come to a station and pay $30,000 to occupy certain time spots on the radio shows...and that gives to the station money to maintain and improve. The company get's their product out and known, and consumers get their entertainment and gain knowledge of what is "new" and "out there!"

  7. After reading chapter 5 on centralizing all radio, my initial thought was thinking I couldn’t imagine any type of radio without the angle of trying to advertise. The thought that came next in my mind was thinking why would they even try to do radio at this point because it would end up being a non profitable organization without the use of advertising.

    It was sort of refreshing in a way to me though, seeing President Hoover stand up against the commercialization of radio and saying how it would ruin the radio industry. He does have a point in a way saying that he didn’t want the market to be monopolized, which pretty much has happened to the TV market, and somewhat to the radio market.

    It was also quite entertaining to see that type of ads we saw, that had a much different information based approach back then being more information based. But one particular Gillette ad seemed surprisingly similar to an ad I see today, back then Gillette ads were described as informing people all the different types of beards you can have, and I think that’s funny because Gillette has an ad running now featuring Andre 3000 (member of the band Outkast) literally shaving his beard in several different ways displaying the different types of way the electric razor can shave his beard.

  8. Chapter five ends on a reflection of revisionist history, with David Sarnoff and the other “victors” re-writing the story books so they read as the glorified Prometheus’s that brought the illumination of broadcasting to the cowering masses. Clearly, their idea of history strays from actual events, but their act of revising history did make me pause. How much of any of the history we read, the reality of what took place? It is a good question to have in the back of our minds as we delve further into our research project. We should always question the origin and the original intent of our sources. Especially in this chapter,with the text’s illustration of how money and politics greatly shaped the broadcast industry, we can see how the truth of history is mired in a myriad of other motivations.

  9. I found the chapter on advertising very interesting because of how different the view of advertisements were when radio started to today. Herbert Hoover said that it is "Inconceivable...that we should allow so great a possibility for service, for news, for entertainment, for education, and for vital commercial purposes to be drowned in advertising chatter."
    Today the main way radio and broadcast companies make revenue is through advertisements!Its a fact of life, advertisements are everywhere and people just deal with it. It just strikes me as crazy that when radio was starting out a genuine concern was to keep its integrity.
    I also found it funny that people believed that advertisements would ruin the radio business because the idea was that "No one would stand for it." This was a brand new medium of mass communication. People must have been so excited that they would listen to anything just because of how different and new it all was. If advertisements came in early enough in the history of radio eventually they would be ignored, and people wouldnt be angry to the idea because they would get used to it over time.