Tuning out education, Chapter 3

Rival lobbies fought for regulators’ nod

“If you educators do not hold radio for yourselves,” Judge Ira Robinson told educational broadcasters in June 1930, “it is going to be so fortified by commercial interests that you will never get it.”[41]

The lone pro-education member of the Federal Radio Commission, Robinson had ample grounds for alarm. Since the mid-’20s, dozens of school-operated stations had been driven from the air by a combination of commercial competition, FRC pressures, and their own lack of resources and resourcefulness. In 1930, the mortality rate seemed to be rising; more than 20 educational stations would fall silent by the end of July. During the previous winter, Commissioner Robinson had been involved in a promising initiative that might have brought the federal government to the rescue. But the Advisory Committee on Education by Radio, appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, had pulled back from recommending measures that would do much good for beleaguered educational broadcasters.

Tuning out education, Chapter 2

Education had no ‘inalienable right to part of the air,’ said the spokesman for broadcaster-educator Cooperation in 1930. It would have to prove itself in the marketplace. The struggle had only begun…

Tuning out education

How did advertising-driven broadcasting establish itself as the dominant user of the airwaves in America? A crucial episode occurred in the 1930s when commercial broadcasters argued successfully that they would put education on the air, and educators should stick to their books. Eugene E. Leach, Ph.D., a professor of history and American studies at Connecticut’s Trinity College, tells the story, originally serialized in Current. Chapters

1. The doctrine of ‘Cooperation’ won early battles of ideas