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Engineering the Public Interest, 1922-1925: Technological Rationality and Institutionalization of American Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  20 the ideas of both the erection of a 500,000 watt station and a chain of three 50,000 watt stations, supplemented in congested areas by a series of 5,000 watt stations for organizing national broadcasting. WJZ was bringing many complaints in a large populous area of New Jersey until 1926. 50 Despite general improvement of reception, Hoover’s power policy aggravated the overall conditions of channel allocation for the rest of more than 500 stations, favoring about 20 superpower–5,000 watts and 50,000 watts—stations. The superpower was a new classification to give preferred portions of channels to a small number of corporate stations and to replace the Class B category as a central force of radio development. 51 Superpower stations with the best portions of channels and expensive equipment had a clear interest as reflected in the amount of their capital investments. In the debate over a new allocation scheme to resolve the problem of exhausted Class B bands in March 1925, superpower stations wanted to ensure the increased range of exclusive wavelengths for each station sufficient to reach the listeners across the continent. For that purpose, they promoted the increase of power and the decrease in the number of stations, while opposing the expansion of the broadcast band. Local stations were assumed to be assigned on a different band of wavelength altogether. Sarnoff clearly intended to build super- powered stations that would blanket whole regions (local stations), not just a metropolitan area or a section of a state. In a word, they necessitated more geographical distance from each other for clear channels and for the extended market of their broadcasting. 52 In the narrowly framed policy debate, the technical standard of power built on the scientific authority of elite engineers created a formula of quantified public interest. Many number of radio listeners seemed to prefer the service of big corporate stations that offered diverse forms of programming and expensive broadcast material. Sponsors preferred stations

Authors: Baek, Misook.
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20
the ideas of both the erection of a 500,000 watt station and a chain of three 50,000 watt stations,
supplemented in congested areas by a series of 5,000 watt stations for organizing national
broadcasting. WJZ was bringing many complaints in a large populous area of New Jersey until
1926.
50
Despite general improvement of reception, Hoover’s power policy aggravated the
overall conditions of channel allocation for the rest of more than 500 stations, favoring about 20
superpower–5,000 watts and 50,000 watts—stations. The superpower was a new classification to
give preferred portions of channels to a small number of corporate stations and to replace the
Class B category as a central force of radio development.
51
Superpower stations with the best
portions of channels and expensive equipment had a clear interest as reflected in the amount of
their capital investments. In the debate over a new allocation scheme to resolve the problem of
exhausted Class B bands in March 1925, superpower stations wanted to ensure the increased
range of exclusive wavelengths for each station sufficient to reach the listeners across the
continent.
For that purpose, they promoted the increase of power and the decrease in the number of
stations, while opposing the expansion of the broadcast band. Local stations were assumed to be
assigned on a different band of wavelength altogether. Sarnoff clearly intended to build super-
powered stations that would blanket whole regions (local stations), not just a metropolitan area
or a section of a state. In a word, they necessitated more geographical distance from each other
for clear channels and for the extended market of their broadcasting.
52
In the narrowly framed policy debate, the technical standard of power built on the
scientific authority of elite engineers created a formula of quantified public interest. Many
number of radio listeners seemed to prefer the service of big corporate stations that offered
diverse forms of programming and expensive broadcast material. Sponsors preferred stations


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