The Autumn Garden dramaturgy: 1949 communication and media

Table of Contents

Communications and Media

Radio Free Europe begins beaming world news to listeners behind the Iron Curtain from an operations base at Munich. Gen. Lucius D. Clay has helped start the organization and is chairman of the board; he asks for private contributions to help fund its broadcasts, but nearly all of its support comes from the CIA.

Pacifica Radio has its beginnings in the FM station KPFA that goes on the air at Berkeley, Calif., April 15. Kansas City-born pacifist Lewis Hill, 29, spent the war in a camp for conscientious objectors; moved from Washington, D.C., to the Bay Area 3 years ago; and pioneers in listener-sponsored radio, with on-air pledge drives in place of commercial sponsors to free it from dependence on advertisers who might object to some of its views. The station is housed in a Victorian house, where on-air hosts must sometimes speak over the sound of bathroom plumbing noises..

The 15-year-old Federal Communications Commission (FCC) imposes a “Fairness Doctrine” on radio and television stations to “afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of public importance.” Many U.S. cities and towns have only one or two radio and TV stations, and their owners have licenses that give them monopoly power to deny airtime to viewpoints they oppose. The FCC prohibited editorializing on the radio 8 years ago, some station owners will simply stifle discussion of controversial issues lest they be obliged to air dozens of different views, and right-wing elements will be especially outspoken in their attacks on the doctrine.

The Department of Justice charges American Telephone & Telegraph with having monopolized the telephone instrument market in violation of the Sherman Act of 1890. AT&T may be a “natural monopoly,” the department says, but the manufacture of telephones is by no means a natural monopoly. It asks the company to break its Western Electric division into three separate companies so as to permit competition in telephone instrument production and installation.

Paris-Match resumes publication under that name following the exoneration of Match publisher and industrialist Jean Prouvost, who had been charged with treason at the end of World War II. Replacing the old L’Illustration that was published from 1843 to 1944 but was discredited during the German occupation, the weekly employs a pictorial news-and-current-events format modeled on LIFE magazine, featuring photographic essays and profiles, interviews with government officials, and an emphasis on consumer products, entertainment, and fashion that will gain it wide circulation.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine begins publication November 1 after Allied Occupation authorities lift a licensing requirement for German newspapers. The late Adolf Hitler closed down the prewar Frankfurter Zeitung in 1943 and a consortium of journalists from the old paper have started the new one, announcing that “The truth of the facts must be sacred.” They promise that the paper will maintain “strict objectivity in its coverage,” “fair treatment of opposing viewpoints,” and preserve “the ideals of freedom and justice, which our profession shall serve.”

Radio: Dragnet 7/7 on NBC with Santa Monica-born actor Jack Webb, 29, as Sgt. Joe (“Just the facts, ma’am”) Friday, Los Angeles Police Department (to 1956); Father Knows Best 8/25 on NBC with Robert Young as Jim Anderson (to 1954).

Radio was the lifeline for Americans in the 1940’s, providing news, music and entertainment, much like television today.  Programming included soap operas, quiz shows, children’s hours, mystery stories, fine drama, and sports. Kate Smith and Arthur Godfrey were popular radio hosts. The government relied heavily on radio for propaganda. Like the movies, radio faded in popularity as television became prominent. Many of the most popular radio shows continued on in television, including Red Skelton, Abbott and Costello, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Truth or Consequences.

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