Monday, Dec. 14, 2009
BOOK BY K-STATE JOURNALISM PROFESSOR LINKS K-STATE TO PROGRESSIVE BROADCASTING IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY
MANHATTAN -- A new book by a Kansas State University professor of journalism and mass communications reveals a key K-State connection with the early development of American broadcasting.
"The NBC Advisory Council and Radio Programming, 1926-1945" was written by K-State's Louise Benjamin and was published by the Southern Illinois University Press.
According to Benjamin, when the Radio Corporation of America formed NBC to operate its two radio networks in 1926, it also established an advisory board of prominent citizens to help NBC's executives make programming decisions and to deflect concerns about the corporation's potential monopoly over radio.
"Francis Farrell, K-State president from 1925 to 1943, was a progressive member of this board who became very instrumental in developing programs aimed at rural audiences," Benjamin said. "During the Great Depression the top-10 radio show 'Farm and Home Hour' helped bring radio to millions of rural listeners who made up 40 percent of the U.S. population in the interwar years."
Benjamin's book details the council's decisions on a number of controversial topics, including radio's operation in the public interest, access of religious groups to the airwaves, personal attacks on individuals, election coverage, broadcasts on moral issues such as birth control and political propaganda in commercial programs. Many of the council's declarations on free speech and programs reflected conservative sentiments found in society at that time, Benjamin said.
Benjamin also is the author of "Freedom of the Air and the Public Interest: First Amendment Rights in Broadcasting to 1935," which won the 2002 Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression from the National Communication Association.
A former television director/producer, Benjamin joined K-State in 2008 as the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications' Ross Beach Chair for Mass Communications. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in journalism and digital media, including media law and media history.
The book may be ordered at http://www.siupress.com