Nationalism and the Radio

1940s Nationalism.mp4

The Radio and Nationalism

Television was becoming increasingly popular towards the end of the 1940's, but the cost of a television was still too high for most Americans.  As a result, the majority of Americans got their news and entertainment at home from a radio.  Americans tuned in to stories and shows that portrayed American values, news stories that talk about a triumphant America at war with evil Germans and weekly radio shows hosted by the President of the United States of America known as "Fireside Chats". 

 Radio broadcast shows, music, news and helped to spread the message of American patriotism.


Task 1: Watch the Introductory Video to this Unit (5 minutes)

Task 2: Review the provided images, videos and attached links about the role of the radio and the rise of nationalism during the 1940's in the United States(10 minutes)

Task 3: Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fireside Chats (5 minutes)

Task 4: Women's Role in the Workforce During World War Two (10 minutes)

Task 5: World War Two and it's Effect of Race Relation in America (10 minutes)


Golden Age of American radio, period lasting roughly from 1930 through the 1940s, when the medium of commercial broadcast radio grew into the fabric of daily life in the United States, providing news and entertainment to a country struggling with economic depression and war. ( )


During American radio’s Golden Age, much of the programming heard by listeners was controlled by advertising agencies, which conceived the shows, hired the talent and staff (sometimes drawing performers directly from the old vaudeville theater circuit), and leased airtime and studio facilities from the radio networks. Programs became fixed in quarter-hour and half-hour blocks and featured a wide variety of formats. Soap operas such as Ma Perkins and The Guiding Light kept housewives company through the afternoon. Children listened to the adventure series Little Orphan Annie and the science-fiction show Flash Gordon. Amos ’n’ Andy, a situation comedy, was the most popular show ever broadcast, lasting more than 30 years.  ( )


Edward R. Murrow

Murrow had a profound impact on both radio and television. His ability to paint a picture with words brought him overnight success during his radio news reports from London during World War II. In fact, Murrow is often credited for inventing the radio correspondent. He was originally hired by CBS as "Director of talks". Murrow and his "boys" reported in gripping detail on the war in Europe. When Murrow returned to the United States in 1941, he was a celebrity. He was reluctant to become actively involved with television, and worked as vice president and director of public affairs for CBS. ( )

Franklin D. Roosevelt's 

"Fireside Chats"

Roosevelt was not actually sitting beside a fireplace when he delivered the speeches, but behind a microphone-covered desk in the White House. Reporter Harry Butcher of CBS coined the term “fireside chat” in a press release before one of Roosevelt’s speeches on May 7, 1933. The name stuck, as it perfectly evoked the comforting intent behind Roosevelt’s words, as well as their informal, conversational tone. Roosevelt took care to use the simplest possible language, concrete examples and analogies in the fireside chats, so as to be clearly understood by the largest number of Americans. He began many of the nighttime chats with the greeting “My friends,” and referred to himself as “I” and the American people as “you” as if addressing his listeners directly and personally.  ( )


During the early and mid 1940's having a sense of national pride and working to help win the war was of the greatest importance.  The United States had a moral obligation to intervene in the war and once the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 we had no other option.  In an effort to win the war the whole country needed to sacrifice, materials were rationed to help support the troops, companies started producing war time products and haulted their regular production and the use of propaganda was on the rise.  These tools helped unite America and helped the Allies win the war, but it also brought with it some new challenges in America, especially for African American soldiers who fought in another war to defend a country that does not fully support them and immigrants who fled the horrors of war that now find themselves in a country that does not understand them or their culture.

Win the War

Prior to World War II, factories in the United States were turning out automobiles, large and small appliances, and children's toys.

In January 1942 — a mere month after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii — President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the establishment of the War Production Board.

Its purpose was to convert the factories of peacetime industries into  manufacturing plants for weapons and military equipment for the fight. The second goal was to conserve materials like metal, which soldiers, sailors and Marines would need for the fight in such things as guns, ordnance, tanks, ships, aircraft, tactical vehicles and so on.

Other items considered essential for war included petroleum products, rubber, paper and plastic. That meant strict rationing for civilians, such as limiting vehicle usage and the purchase of luxury items.

The War Production Board lasted until just after the end of World War II in October 1945. ( )

America First

Images created in times of war reveal the tensions and fears ignited by the conflicts between nations.   One 1942 poster, titled This is the Enemy, circulated in the United States following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Its purpose was to embody the entire Japanese nation as a ruthless and animalistic enemy that needed to be defeated. This image represents a clash between two nations at war and illustrates the biased perceptions that developed as a result. By dehumanizing the Japanese and instilling fear in the minds of Americans, WWII propaganda posters promoted cultural and racial hatred that led to massive historical consequences for the Japanese.  ( )


During the Second World War, Americans were asked to make sacrifices in many ways. Rationing was not only one of those ways, but it was a way Americans contributed to the war effort.

When the United States declared war after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States government created a system of rationing, limiting the amount of certain goods that a person could purchase. Supplies such as gasoline, butter, sugar and canned milk were rationed because they needed to be diverted to the war effort. War also disrupted trade, limiting the availability of some goods. For example, the Japanese Imperial Army controlled the Dutch East Indies (today’s Indonesia) from March 1942 to September 1945, creating a shortage of rubber that affected American production.

On August 28, 1941, President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 8875 created the Office of Price Administration (OPA). The OPA’s main responsibility was to place a ceiling on prices of most goods, and to limit consumption by rationing. ( )