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Engineering the Public Interest, 1922-1925: Technological Rationality and Institutionalization of American Broadcasting
Unformatted Document Text:  29 and power increase, the mutual influences of technology, society and cultural choices in given historical conditions could not avoid controversial issues in organizing an American broadcasting system. 75 Against the corporate initiatives to capture the meaning of the public interest, noncommercial broadcasters were not successful in standing on their genuine public, disinterested identity. Educational broadcasters pleaded only for instructional spectrum for extension courses and adult education and for noncommercial information related to markets and agriculture. They were marginal interests. The claim of their contribution to farmers and rural populations was yielded to superpower stations’ program services with clear reception. Responses of majority listeners to technological policy choice seemed to show general acceptance despite concerns about monopoly. Given the technical conditions of broadcasting reception and people’s interests in novelty of listening programs, listeners’ preference for big features and clear channels was natural. In fact, large corporate commercial stations were providing technologically and qualitatively superior services without or with less advertising than some of the low power local stations filled with vulgar material and advertising. Particularly, considering that radio magazines focused mainly on the radio corporations’ development and neglected social and political issues concerning many of the 500 stations, it was hard to expect that listeners would be concerned with how the public interest principle was applied. The principle of the public interest was monopolized by the large corporations and Hoover for their needs. Endnotes 1 On Hoover’s interpretation and use of the public interest, Herbert Hoover, Opening Address, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library (HHPL), Commerce Papers: Radio, Conferences, National-First ( Feb. 27, 1922) Minutes. b. 496, 2; Richard A. Schwartzlose, “Technology and the Individual: The Impact of Innovation on Communication,” in Mass Media Between the Wars: Perceptions of Cultural Tension, 1918-1941 ed. Catherine L. Covert and John D. Stevens (Syracuse University Press, 1984),100. On the amateurs as owners’ of the airwaves, Clinton B. DeSoto, Two Hundred Meters and Down: The Story of Amateur Radio (West Hartford, Connecticut: The American Radio Relay

Authors: Baek, Misook.
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29
and power increase, the mutual influences of technology, society and cultural choices in given
historical conditions could not avoid controversial issues in organizing an American broadcasting
system.
75
Against the corporate initiatives to capture the meaning of the public interest,
noncommercial broadcasters were not successful in standing on their genuine public,
disinterested identity. Educational broadcasters pleaded only for instructional spectrum for
extension courses and adult education and for noncommercial information related to markets and
agriculture. They were marginal interests. The claim of their contribution to farmers and rural
populations was yielded to superpower stations’ program services with clear reception.
Responses of majority listeners to technological policy choice seemed to show general
acceptance despite concerns about monopoly. Given the technical conditions of broadcasting
reception and people’s interests in novelty of listening programs, listeners’ preference for big
features and clear channels was natural. In fact, large corporate commercial stations were
providing technologically and qualitatively superior services without or with less advertising
than some of the low power local stations filled with vulgar material and advertising. Particularly,
considering that radio magazines focused mainly on the radio corporations’ development and
neglected social and political issues concerning many of the 500 stations, it was hard to expect
that listeners would be concerned with how the public interest principle was applied. The
principle of the public interest was monopolized by the large corporations and Hoover for their
needs.
Endnotes
1
On Hoover’s interpretation and use of the public interest, Herbert Hoover, Opening Address, Herbert Hoover
Presidential Library (HHPL), Commerce Papers: Radio, Conferences, National-First ( Feb. 27, 1922) Minutes. b.
496, 2; Richard A. Schwartzlose, “Technology and the Individual: The Impact of Innovation on Communication,” in
Mass Media Between the Wars: Perceptions of Cultural Tension, 1918-1941 ed. Catherine L. Covert and John D.
Stevens (Syracuse University Press, 1984),100. On the amateurs as owners’ of the airwaves, Clinton B. DeSoto, Two
Hundred Meters and Down: The Story of Amateur Radio
(West Hartford, Connecticut: The American Radio Relay


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