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Listening in: Radio and the American Imagination

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  12 reviews
At the beginning of this spirited and engaging cultural history, Douglas (communication studies, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor) refers to Erik Barnouw's three-volume History of Broadcasting in the United States (published between 1966 and 1970); she covers much of the same ground only quicker (one volume) and points out that each chapter could have bee ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published February 25th 2004 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published 1999)
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Ken Dowell
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you have any interest at all in the history of radio in America, this is the book to read. How could you not, after all, love an author who introduces Mitch Miller as the “fuddy-duddy host of the sappy ‘Sing Along with Mitch.’”

Douglas notes some of the dates and milestones of radio’s growth, but she is far more interested in what it is like and what it means to listen and how that fuels the imagination. This could well be considered a work of sociology as well as history as it delves into how
Nov 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Not just the history of radio but a focus on practices of listening, making it ideal for a sound studies class. Throughout, Douglas also makes great connections between technology, listening, and gender, making it great for gender studies classes as well.
Learned a lot about the development of radio technology and culture, and their impact on 20th century America. Also learned, in a tidbit about FDR's crusade against newspapers, that he sounded a lot like another ostensibly anti-media president:

Privately, Roosevelt in 1940 asked the new FCC Chairman, Lawrence Fly, “Will you let me know when you propose to have a hearing on newspaper ownership of radio stations?” Publicly, through his press secretary, Steve Early, Roosevelt told broadcasters that
Lilly Irani
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Interesting cultural history of American radio from the 1920s through the 1990s. She does a really nice job of bringing together the experiential aspects -- how radio shows and communication styles let people imagine themselves as parts of larger communities -- and the economic and policy forces that shaped the medium (and the experience, in turn).

If you're really interested in how the internet shapes publics and consciousness, you should read this book. The history of radio has much to teach an
Apr 14, 2014 rated it liked it
This book sort of straddles the line between being a textbook and being a book for popular consumption, so how much you'd like it probably depends on how much rigor you want. If you want a surprisingly readable textbook on the subject, this is perfect. But for me, and probably for most people not taking a media studies class, it winds up being a somewhat dry, overly comprehensive approach. ...more
Thomas Cook
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although released several years ago, this book provides an interesting and provocative overview of the development of radio listening over the years with valuable analyses from a psychological perspective. I found it NOT to be an "easy" read, but it was worthwhile and informative. ...more
Nov 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: radio
This is a very comprehensive history of radio. It explains the changes in technology and formats and how that affects the way the general public listens. It is very concise through the late 1980's. ...more
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
The first academic book I've read cover-to-cover in a long time. Very compelling, detailed. A model. ...more
John Parker
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Fun for a radio buff. I'll read parts of it again and go back to explore some references made. ...more
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Had to read a chapter of this for a class on American Popular Culture. Ended up buying the book so I could finish it. Great insight into the importance and effect of radio up until, and during, the advent of the telly. Enjoyed the tone of the book.
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Susan J. Douglas is a prize-winning author, columnist, and cultural critic, and the Catherine Neafie Kellogg Professor of Communication Studies at The University of Michigan. Her book Where the Girls Are was widely praised, and chosen one of the top ten books of 1994 by National Public Radio, Entertainment Weekly and The McLaughlin Group. In her most recent book, Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive ...more

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