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Big Bands & Swing

Importance of the Radio*

The Swing Era*
Swing: The Music*
Songs During a Time of War*
Frank Sinatra: A Musical Sensation*
Importance of the Radio*
Big Bands: Fast Facts*
Well-Known Musical Artists*
Works Consulted

The concept of the radio first came about in 1879 however it was not really perfected until 1922 when the first radiobroadcast occurred in 1922 in Pittsburgh. Listening to the radio instantly became popular and developed interest over night. As a result of the success, many other radio stations opened up. It was in the 1940s that the use of radio truly skyrocketed. Radio became the "lifeline" for many because it was a cheap way to stay involved and aware of what was going on around them. It was informative and entertaining due tot he music and news programs. Two well-known radio hosts were Arthur Godfrey and Kate Smith. The government became interested in the major appeal the radio network held so they began to use the radio for propaganda.


          Americans had been used to having their freedom of expression, however during the war they had to adjust to temporary limits on this freedom. The Office of Censorship was the group responsible for these limitations on letters from overseas, in which they might delete some words, then, reseal, and send the letter to the intended location. However, they were most responsible for the censoring of radio broadcasts. Battle Casualties and news of ship and troop movements were strictly confidential and not meant to be publicized. The Office of War Information was then developed in 1942 to further the protection of American citizens The organization worked to defend and explain the actions of the government as well as to keep some informational confidential. This group determined what government programs were broadcasted and radio stations were given facts to incorporate in their broadcasts to show they supported the government. Each week radio stations had to promise to dedicate a certain amount of time to war related programs. War related issues were also to be worked into other specials that were not directly concerned with war, such as children's specials and dramas.

          Security on radio stations also became very strict. Song requests were often denied with the possibility of an individual trying to use a song title to relay a message to another individual. Weather reports were temporary suspended with the fear that bomber pilots would over hear. Spontaneous interviews on the streets were also temporarily discontinued because of the same fear of "coded messages".

A Radio From the 1940s

            *It is also important to compare how radios were dealt with in America versus in Germany during the same time period. In Nazi Germany the production of radios, also a somewhat new development was very restrictive. Any radios that received signals of radio stations other than those put out by the German government were by all means prohibited. A radio that did not meet the requirements of the state was forbidden. The government was very strict in what radios were allowed in the home. Hitler, the leading force of this movement, wanted to ensure that citizens of Germany could not listen in on productions of British and France. Unfortunately, his goal was undeniably a success. People of Germany hold learned about what the government wanted them to be aware of. For instance, some townspeople who entered concentration camps and were told to bury dead townspeople acted confused, honestly saying that they were not aware of what was going on. This was in most cases true, due to the ultimate control Nazis held over Germany.   

            It is unbelievable how clueless many Germans were about the realities of what was occurring in Germany.  "In fact, many Germans thought they were still winning the war when Allied troops entered Germany, and most critically, most believed that there was no holocaust. To achieve this incredible social control and deception meant having complete control of the communications media. With radio, several frequencies were isolated and "Volksradios" could not tune into anything but Nazi stations. Listening to anything else meant the radio was likely modified. This was an act punishable as treason."

Honors Madman Project