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Engineering the Public Interest, 1922-1925: Technological Rationality and Institutionalization of American Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  26 recommended “an affirmative action”—it did not mean the granting of the good portion of the wavelengths—for Umberger’s proposal. The recognition of the need for educational broadcasting promoted experimentation where educational institutions used the broadcasting facilities of commercial stations. Such experimentation had often been attempted since mid-1924 to broadcast educational lectures and talks, but not course instruction for extension education, in cooperation with large commercial stations, such as WEAF and KDKA. However, educators would soon find the conflicts between commercial interests and educational information and censorship by commercial stations. 70 Until this time, educational broadcasters had been focusing on the their role as distributors of noncommercial information and adult, extension education. The public interest mainly meant the opposition of the commercial, and their identity was school educators, not public broadcasters. The majority of the listeners were fascinated with listening to popular music, jazz or concert music of a prestigious orchestra, rather than educational lectures. One of the major interests of listeners was clear reception of broadcasting channels. Despite public sentiments opposing monopoly, listeners, particularly those residing in remote areas and using cheap radio receivers, liked technological and program service from powerful corporate stations. City residents were concerned more about the problem of interference. Broadcasters in the Fourth Conference suggested the organization of broadcast listeners as “a clearing house for the local elimination of sources of interference.” 71 In this climate, listeners welcomed the restriction of the number of stations in the hope that it would reduce interference caused by crowded stations. They were persuaded by Hoover’s argument of the inevitability of licensing discrimination in the public interest. It was in fact true that a large portion of incumbent and pending broadcasters were people who wanted to “advertise themselves or to get a share of the profits to be derived from advertising others.” Powerful big stations were not considered profit seekers; rather they were public broadcasters against those selfish broadcasters.

Authors: Baek, Misook.
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26
recommended “an affirmative action”—it did not mean the granting of the good portion of the
wavelengths—for Umberger’s proposal. The recognition of the need for educational
broadcasting promoted experimentation where educational institutions used the broadcasting
facilities of commercial stations.
Such experimentation had often been attempted since mid-1924
to broadcast educational lectures and talks, but not course instruction for extension education, in
cooperation with large commercial stations, such as WEAF and KDKA. However, educators
would soon find the conflicts between commercial interests and educational information and
censorship by commercial stations.
70
Until this time, educational broadcasters had been focusing
on the their role as distributors of noncommercial information and adult, extension education.
The public interest mainly meant the opposition of the commercial, and their identity was school
educators, not public broadcasters. The majority of the listeners were fascinated with listening to
popular music, jazz or concert music of a prestigious orchestra, rather than educational lectures.
One of the major interests of listeners was clear reception of broadcasting channels.
Despite public sentiments opposing monopoly, listeners, particularly those residing in remote
areas and using cheap radio receivers, liked technological and program service from powerful
corporate stations. City residents were concerned more about the problem of interference.
Broadcasters in the Fourth Conference suggested the organization of broadcast listeners as “a
clearing house for the local elimination of sources of interference.”
71
In this climate, listeners
welcomed the restriction of the number of stations in the hope that it would reduce interference
caused by crowded stations. They were persuaded by Hoover’s argument of the inevitability of
licensing discrimination in the public interest. It was in fact true that a large portion of incumbent
and pending broadcasters were people who wanted to “advertise themselves or to get a share of
the profits to be derived from advertising others.” Powerful big stations were not considered
profit seekers; rather they were public broadcasters against those selfish broadcasters.


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