Active Radio: Pacifica's Brash Experiment by Jeffrey Land

By Jeffrey Land

Energetic Radio: Pacifica's Brash test (Commerce and Mass tradition)

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With the onset of the New Deal after the election of Roosevelt in 1932, and vast public antagonism toward “big business,” many educators believed their time to regain the airwaves had arrived. Unfortunately, the effort to force Congress to secure a substantial number of channels for commercial-free stations failed in the face of the networks’ massive lobbying and some tactical confusion by the educators. ” The most well known of their proposals was the HatfieldWagner Amendment to the Communications Act of 1934, calling for the government to reserve 15 to 25 percent of the frequencies for noncommercial stations.

In response, the radio industry could claim that licenses were “owned” by hundreds of independent stations. While critics argued that advertisers ultimately determined the nature of programming by demanding the largest possible audience, the government, citing its widespread distribution of licenses, countered that it had taken effective steps to prevent monopolistic practices in the industry, thereby ensuring the nation essential First Amendment practices in the electronic media. This vocal backlash to the commercialization of the ether demanded a stream of public relations maneuvers from the broadcast corporations.

Government. Thus, as World War II wound to a close, the CO population wavered between the fear that authoritarianism would emerge and the hope that radical social trans- 36 LEW HILL’S PASSION AND THE ORIGINS OF PACIFICA formation would intervene. Guided by the example of Gandhi and A. J. Muste’s calls for “holy disobedience,” COs in the camps convinced themselves that their moral witnessing could “raise consciousness in the larger society, leading ultimately to a revolution . . ”23 Hill, after his medical discharge from camp, emerged as one of the spokespersons for this radical tendency when he launched the “Japanese Project” in 1945.

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