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How Radio Changed America

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Civics +2 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old)
The technology for radio communications advanced during World War I, but it wasn't until the 1920s that commercial broadcasting grew and everyone wanted a radio for their home. Radio had a huge impact on creating a "mass media" that bound together the nation. As students explore this collection, they will look for evidence proving that radio changed America in four different areas:
-Politics
-Entertainment and Sports
-Religion
-Advertising

Possible assignments using this collection include:
1) Writing an essay evaluating the statement "Radio created a mass culture in America."
2) Researching a particular figure in radio's early history and sharing findings with classmates.
3) Creating a 1920s radio program that featured key people and trends from the decade. This could be recorded and shared in the form of a podcast.
4) Developing a chart comparing and contrasting the impact of radio with television or the internet.

[Four men in station KDKA's radio room, black & white photoprint]

Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Philco Model 16B Cathedral Radio

National Museum of American History

Emerson Radio

National Museum of American History

Radio Broadcast

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Radio Guide

National Museum of American History

[Two couples listening to a radio, black-and-white photoprint.]

Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Calvin Coolidge

National Portrait Gallery

NBC "Fireside Chat" Microphone

National Museum of American History

Aimee Semple McPherson

National Portrait Gallery