• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

The origins and evolution of the major insititutions in the United States for noncommercial radio and television are explored in this unique volume. Ralph Engelman examines the politics behind the development of National Public Radio, Radio Pacifica and the Public Broadcasting Service. He traces the changing social forces that converged to launch and shape these institutions from the Second World War to the present day. The book challenges several commonly held beliefs - including that the mass media is simply a manipulative tool - and concludes that public broadcasting has an enormous potential as an emancipatory vehicle.

The Public Origins of American Broadcasting
The public origins of american broadcasting

Public radio and television as we know it today in the United States developed after World War II. However, any study of the evolution of noncommercial broadcasting must reckon with the period between the two world wars that ended with the ascendancy of a commercial system of advertiser-supported network broadcasting. As a result, noncommercial radio and television, irrespective of the forms they might assume after 1945, were fated to serve a secondary or supplemental function.

An examination of the interwar period dispels the myth that a consensus existed from the outset about the desirability of a predominantly commercial system of broadcasting. Indeed, it has been said that “the early history of public radio is, in ...

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