Listening in: Radio and the American Imagination (Paperback)

Radio and the American Imagination

By Susan J. Douglas

University of Minnesota Press, 9780816644230, 415pp.

Publication Date: February 25, 2004



Few inventions evoke such nostalgia, such deeply personal and vivid memories as radio. Ask anyone born before World War II about radio, and you'll see that person time-travel to the lost world of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Arturo Toscanini; to the jokes of Jack Benny and Burns and Allen; to the sobering commentary of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Edward R. Murrow. Those born after World War II grew up tuned to Jean Shepherd in the darkness of their bedrooms; cruising with Sam Cooke, the Beatles, or the Doors; talking back to Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, and Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Listening In is the first in-depth history of how radio culture and content have kneaded and expanded the American psyche.
But Listening In is more than a history. It is also a reconsideration of what listening to radio has done to American culture in the twentieth century and how it has brought a completely new auditory dimension to our lives. Susan Douglas explores how listening has altered our day-to-day experiences and our own generational identities, cultivating different modes of listening in different eras; how radio has shaped our views of race, gender roles, ethic barriers, family dynamics, leadership, and the generation gap.
How we listened, where we listened, who we listened to and why: With her trademark wit and erudition, Susan Douglas has created an eminently readable cultural history of radio that fixes its place in our lives as shaper and reflector of our passions and obsessions.