chapter  5
28 Pages

The Politics and Poetics of Neutrality 106

ByRadio, Rockefeller, and Reform

In the United States network radio hit the apex of its social influence, creativity, prosperity and popularity in the late 1930s and early 1940s, yet in many ways still fell short of fulfilling the role of central national institution that the BBC had occupied from the beginning. Forces were at work, however, to amend the fragmented, decentralized, primarily commercial

system of American radio. Some came from within the industry itself, some worked from the outside, and others simply swept the radio industry along in the tide of social upheaval brought about by impending war. By 1946, as wartime efforts disbanded, American radio had transformed itself into a national cultural institution with obligations and responsibilities it had never recognized before, even as a greater transformation loomed: television.