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Radio's New Deal: The NRA and U.S. Broadcasting, 1933-1935
Unformatted Document Text:  10 Broadcasters were concerned by rumors of new broadcast union organizing drives by the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). An earlier IATSE Hollywood strike of motion picture production in July 1933, began to affect broadcasting workplaces. With much of the sound technology in film also being used in radio stations throughout the U.S., it was inevitable that cross-industry labor organizing would be considered by labor unions. Radio Broadcasting Code Authority Just before Labor Day 1933, the NAB submitted its suggested broadcast codes to the NRA code authority for review and approval. In comparison to the motion picture industry NRA codes, the proposed broadcast codes did not offer sweeping reforms for broadcasters. One could say that the broadcast codes were almost entirely beneficial to industry practice and power relations at the time. For example, the proposed code language indicated that 253 stations, or more than 81 percent of all U.S. radio stations that were NAB members, were already operating within NRA guidelines. This suggests that the code authority, acting mainly as an extension of the NAB, put forward an industry code that required few changes from individual broadcasters. There was genuine concern among the top NAB leadership as to what organized labor would say about the proposals. Edward P. Nockels, NRA labor advisor and operator of WCFL Chicago, would later have to review these codes when submitted to the NRA for approval. Specific language was written into the codes to pre-empt a challenge from Nockels and other independent union groups. The most pressing issue at the time was the 40-hour week for technical employees. Many owners and managers said they could not, arguing that a shorter work week would cripple the industry economically. However, a confidential NBC memo written by O.B. Hanson, the network’s technical operations manager, on August 8th projected that 62 new jobs would be created in moving from a 48- hour to a 40-hour week for technicians at the NBC-owned radio stations nationally. Hanson reported that the annual cost of these new positions would probably not amount to more

Authors: Mazzocco, Dennis.
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10
Broadcasters were concerned by rumors of new broadcast union organizing drives by the
International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) and the International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). An earlier IATSE Hollywood strike of motion picture
production in July 1933, began to affect broadcasting workplaces. With much of the sound
technology in film also being used in radio stations throughout the U.S., it was inevitable that
cross-industry labor organizing would be considered by labor unions.
Radio Broadcasting Code Authority
Just before Labor Day 1933, the NAB submitted its suggested broadcast codes to the NRA
code authority for review and approval. In comparison to the motion picture industry NRA codes,
the proposed broadcast codes did not offer sweeping reforms for broadcasters. One could say that the
broadcast codes were almost entirely beneficial to industry practice and power relations at the time.
For example, the proposed code language indicated that 253 stations, or more than 81 percent of all
U.S. radio stations that were NAB members, were already operating within NRA guidelines. This
suggests that the code authority, acting mainly as an extension of the NAB, put forward an industry
code that required few changes from individual broadcasters.
There was genuine concern among the top NAB leadership as to what organized labor would
say about the proposals. Edward P. Nockels, NRA labor advisor and operator of WCFL Chicago,
would later have to review these codes when submitted to the NRA for approval. Specific language
was written into the codes to pre-empt a challenge from Nockels and other independent union groups.
The most pressing issue at the time was the 40-hour week for technical employees. Many
owners and managers said they could not, arguing that a shorter work week would cripple the
industry economically. However, a confidential NBC memo written by O.B. Hanson, the network’s
technical operations manager, on August 8th projected that 62 new jobs would be created in moving
from a 48- hour to a 40-hour week for technicians at the NBC-owned radio stations nationally.
Hanson reported that the annual cost of these new positions would probably not amount to more


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