Ear on America
At the end of the 20th century, radio in America is the electronic version of the Founding Fathers' vision of the free and open marketplace of expression as the foundation of democracy. Value judgments aside, these thousands of radio stations offer some of the most diverse and solid evidence that exists of the value and robust health of free expression. Critics worry that when stations sound alike, radio's creativity and excitement may be lost. But spin the dial awhile and one can still find something different, distinctive programming that cuts through the static, easily distinguishable from the other "noise". This chapter illustrates few examples of dial-spinning, evidence of the diversity, breadth, quality and quirkiness of radio that serve all kinds of Americans every day. These case studies also highlight the day-to-day value of radio, that "electronic wallpaper" that nearly all Americans make part of their lives.