This film is part of Free

Is Everybody Listening?

Enjoy the sounds - and sights - of American public radio in 1948. From soap operas and game shows to political debates and classical music concerts, all human life is here.

Documentary 1948 19 mins


Sometimes sublime, often moronic, but always - in this film at least - entertaining, the output of the US commercial radio network in 1948 was largely controlled by the sponsors who spent 100 million dollars a year on promoting their products via the airwaves. Openly critical of the Federal Communications Commission for not clamping down on violations of good taste and programme balance, this issue nonetheless delights in showing us American radio in all its gaudy glory.

One of the most entertaining entries in the March of Time roster, this selection of highlights (and enjoyably awful lowlights) from the golden age of American radio sums up an era, when, according to the C.E.Hooper survey quoted in the issue, 82 per cent of all Americans listened to the radio. From the paradoxical delights of ventriloquism on the radio, in the form of Ed Bergen and his puppet Charlie McCarthy, to Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra, the film gives a real sense of the reach and power of the medium. The report concludes with a rare on-screen appearance by Westbrook Van Voorhis who delivers his trademark ‘Time Marches On!’ sign-off direct to camera: a witty way to end a lively film.