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Radio's New Deal: The NRA and U.S. Broadcasting, 1933-1935
Unformatted Document Text:  8 any claims of violations by the NRA. For all intents and purposes, the NAB was able to maintain its expert industry control by offering very little to the NRA regulators. To expand its purview over more stations, and to counter complaints by smaller stations, the NAB moved to increase its total membership of 253 stations in the last week of August. It established a low-power classification of stations with a lower dues structure to blunt possible critics who might argue that the NAB was not truly representative of all U.S. stations. As a trade organization with limited representation, under a literal interpretation of NIRA language, the NAB should not have been able to develop NRA codes for the entire broadcast industry. But it did. To further sell its codes to the NRA and the public, the NAB hired Dr. Herman S. Hettinger, a professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance, as its temporary consultant and research specialist. He issued a report on economic conditions within the radio industry, based on an earlier NAB survey of stations conducted in anticipation of the NRA codes. Hettinger found that the employment figures and salary trends in U.S. broadcasting had been on an upward spiral since 1929, coinciding with the tremendous growth in radio advertising revenues. The analyst listed the average 1933 wage for all employees in broadcasting at $33.72 per week. The technician pay range extended from $21.71 to $40.35 per week, with more than 50 percent of technicians working more than 40 hours per week. Executive salaries ranged from $40 per week to $140 per week. Hettinger also found that the estimated 1933 annual income of persons working in broadcasting at $1,753 was quite a bit above the 1930 annual wage scale for manufacturing employees ($1,340) and retail employees ($1,315). 9 Hettinger’s scientific analysis seemed designed to please those who had hired him. With some 12,000 regular full-time employees (including more in subsidiary businesses), and a yearly salary payroll of some $25 million, the U.S. radio industry was becoming a leading economic sector, thanks both to its oligopolist structure and to an increasing market for diversion and amusement. In truth, there was almost no comparison between broadcasting and other sagging manufacturing and retail sectors in 1933, let alone in 1930 when the effects of the Depression first became widespread. In actuality, the radio industry

Authors: Mazzocco, Dennis.
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any claims of violations by the NRA. For all intents and purposes, the NAB was able to maintain its
expert industry control by offering very little to the NRA regulators. To expand its purview over
more stations, and to counter complaints by smaller stations, the NAB moved to increase its total
membership of 253 stations in the last week of August. It established a low-power classification of
stations with a lower dues structure to blunt possible critics who might argue that the NAB was not
truly representative of all U.S. stations. As a trade organization with limited representation, under a
literal interpretation of NIRA language, the NAB should not have been able to develop NRA codes
for the entire broadcast industry. But it did.
To further sell its codes to the NRA and the public, the NAB hired Dr. Herman S. Hettinger,
a professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance, as its
temporary consultant and research specialist. He issued a report on economic conditions within the
radio industry, based on an earlier NAB survey of stations conducted in anticipation of the NRA
codes. Hettinger found that the employment figures and salary trends in U.S. broadcasting had been
on an upward spiral since 1929, coinciding with the tremendous growth in radio advertising
revenues. The analyst listed the average 1933 wage for all employees in broadcasting at $33.72 per
week. The technician pay range extended from $21.71 to $40.35 per week, with more than 50 percent
of technicians working more than 40 hours per week. Executive salaries ranged from $40 per week to
$140 per week. Hettinger also found that the estimated 1933 annual income of persons working in
broadcasting at $1,753 was quite a bit above the 1930 annual wage scale for manufacturing employees
($1,340) and retail employees ($1,315).
9
Hettinger’s scientific analysis seemed designed to please those who had hired him. With some
12,000 regular full-time employees (including more in subsidiary businesses), and a yearly salary payroll
of some $25 million, the U.S. radio industry was becoming a leading economic sector, thanks both to its
oligopolist structure and to an increasing market for diversion and amusement. In truth, there was almost
no comparison between broadcasting and other sagging manufacturing and retail sectors in 1933, let alone
in 1930 when the effects of the Depression first became widespread. In actuality, the radio industry


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