History of the Radio in the 1930's

In the 1930’s the United States endured one of the most difficult economic times in the history of our country. This horrible crisis was called The Great Depression. The Great Depression, which began in 1929, was an era never to be forgotten. The Great Depression, though challenging with many hardships, in a way brought America closer together. It caused people to show what they really were made of and highlighted their true character.

Americans worked hard and fought to provide for their families.The radio was a welcome diversion and the radio of the 1930’s entertained and educated the masses. The radio was invented somewhere around the 1860’s but Am radio wasn’t invented until the 1900’s by Lee Deforest. Lee Deforest was the first to use the term radio. Am means amplified modulation and was and is used for long distances.

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Am was the first system utilized to broadcast human voices and talk shows. Another aspect of radio was later invented by Edwin Howard Armstrong.This was referred to as frequency modulation which was a series of wave frequencies that were sent at a low amplification and when these frequencies arrived at the radio they became amplified. Fm wasn’t used until the late 1920’s when entertainment by radio became popular and was on the rise.

Radio in the Thirties was composed of sounds of music, dramas and important political speeches. The radio helped people escape the problems that the country was facing at the time and gave them a sense of peace.In the Thirties almost every family owned a radio. The radio was a necessity of life and allowed people to escape the reality of their hardships.

Many radio programs became famous but some were more celebrated than others. One radio show that grew in popularity was the radio drama, “Empire Builders”. The “Old Timer,” the main character of the “Empire Builders”, is an American rail worker who sees history in the making. In this drama, we get a glimpse of the history of railroads and its’ development and subsequent use of the Columbia River.

Also, another much listened to radio program was NBC Red Network, “The Cremo Singer”. “The Cremo Singer” was the famous Bing Crosby. Cremo was a cigar brand and Bing was a very devoted smoker of all kinds of tobacco products. Smoking interestingly was well accepted during the Thirties.

Politically, President Roosevelt also used the radio to his advantage. The president probably had the most important use of the radio. Often the president would make broadcasts over the air on NBC and ABC to deliver his summary of the nations recovery.These radio messages comforted the people giving them a sense of hope and often most of what he proclaimed ended up being somewhat false. During these broadcasts the nation would gather together in neighbors’ homes to hear the comforting news of hoped for economic growth. In conclusion, one could say that radio brought America together.

Sadly, many of the radio broadcasts, political speeches, and dramas were lost due to poor preservation methods. As a result few know what radio was truly like during the Thirties. One thing is for certain life in the 1930’s would have been even more dreary without radio.

Author: Courtney Jackson


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