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Radio Active: Advertising and Consumer Activism, 1935-1947 Hardcover – May 17, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (May 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520223721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520223721
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,316,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Irate listeners attacking anti-union advertisers, boycotts of soap operas, a bitter ex-federal official who took up the cause of consumers--Newman brings us all of this and more, revealing in her stunning new book how twentieth-century consumers--especially women--contested commercial radio in its glory years. With tremendous clarity and analytical sophistication, she shows that far from 'duped consumers,' radio listeners were savvy, sassy, and effective activists who talked back plenty to commercial radio. Analyzing the dynamics of as a contested zone between listeners, advertisers, radio stations, and new consumer intellectuals, Newman deftly and persuasively reframes our understanding of the cultural politics of consumption."—Dana Frank, author of Buy American: The Untold Story of Economic Nationalism

"Cultural historians often claim that audiences were far from passive victims of mass media manipulation, but Kathy Newman is among the first to reveal how ordinary people actually responded. Focusing on the major mass medium of the 1930s and 1940s, the radio, Newman brilliantly tracks the dialectical process through which audience attention became a commodity that broadcasters set out to sell to sponsors and then how listeners, often women, turned their new-found importance to their own ends as assertive consumers. This is cultural history at its best, bringing together as it does the influence of intellectuals, the workings of cultural institutions, and the reactions of popular audiences."—Lizabeth Cohen, author of A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America

"Lively and accessible, Newman's fascinating account of the characters and concerns behind anti-commercial activism illuminates an overlooked facet of radio history. Her cast of middle class reformers who used radio's own commercialized address to mobilize the consumer movement reminds us of advertising's complex and contested relationship to twentieth-century American culture, and points towards the same forces at work today, now on a global scale."—Michele Hilmes, co-editor of Radio Reader: Essays in the Cultural History of Radio

"An important contribution. . . . More than any other work to date, Newman deconstructs 'the' radio audience and demonstrates how this often-referred-to singular entity was really a heterogeneous body with multiple forms, faces, and concerns. She shows how radio listeners used information they learned on air to launch social movements that had broad economic and political consequences in American society."—Steven J. Ross, author of Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America

From the Back Cover

"Irate listeners attacking anti-union advertisers, boycotts of soap operas, a bitter ex-federal official who took up the cause of consumers--Newman brings us all of this and more, revealing in her stunning new book how twentieth-century consumers--especially women--contested commercial radio in its glory years. With tremendous clarity and analytical sophistication, she shows that far from 'duped consumers,' radio listeners were savvy, sassy, and effective activists who talked back plenty to commercial radio. Analyzing the dynamics of as a contested zone between listeners, advertisers, radio stations, and new consumer intellectuals, Newman deftly and persuasively reframes our understanding of the cultural politics of consumption."-Dana Frank, author of Buy American: The Untold Story of Economic Nationalism "Cultural historians often claim that audiences were far from passive victims of mass media manipulation, but Kathy Newman is among the first to reveal how ordinary people actually responded. Focusing on the major mass medium of the 1930s and 1940s, the radio, Newman brilliantly tracks the dialectical process through which audience attention became a commodity that broadcasters set out to sell to sponsors and then how listeners, often women, turned their new-found importance to their own ends as assertive consumers. This is cultural history at its best, bringing together as it does the influence of intellectuals, the workings of cultural institutions, and the reactions of popular audiences."-Lizabeth Cohen, author of A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America "Lively and accessible, Newman's fascinating account of the characters and concerns behind anti-commercial activism illuminates an overlooked facet of radio history. Her cast of middle class reformers who used radio's own commercialized address to mobilize the consumer movement reminds us of advertising's complex and contested relationship to twentieth-century American culture, and points towards the same forces at work today, now on a global scale."-Michele Hilmes, co-editor of Radio Reader: Essays in the Cultural History of Radio "An important contribution. . . . More than any other work to date, Newman deconstructs 'the' radio audience and demonstrates how this often-referred-to singular entity was really a heterogeneous body with multiple forms, faces, and concerns. She shows how radio listeners used information they learned on air to launch social movements that had broad economic and political consequences in American society."-Steven J. Ross, author of Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Elena Razlogova on April 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Media historians have assumed that advertising existed to incite and direct consumer desire for products. Kathy Newman instead shows how commercials inspired listeners to use their consumer power to shape radio programming.

While the first part focuses on theories and methods of audience research and consumer activism, the final three chapters closely examine both organized consumer protest and more personal interactions between individual listeners and radio producers. These stories will particularly appeal to readers because Newman tells them in part from the point of view of lay Americans, relying on fan letters and newspaper reports of listener demands.
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