The power of radio was clear from the beginning, but the scope of that power was up for debate. With this new technology came a familiar list of fears: kids being robbed of a traditional childhood, spikes in juvenile crime and the balance of elections being tipped. These fears inevitably made their way into the headlines of the time. Here are some of our favorites.

Modern Children Prefer Radio to Cops and Robbers

The Evening Independent | December 7th. 1939

Instead of playing “cops and robbers” and other kid games in their spare time, youngsters of today are planting themselves beside a radio.


Purity of Elections Violated by Radio?

The Spokesman-Review | November 4th, 1936

C ollins ruled there was nothing in the statutes to prevent a person listening to his radio on election day. In the event that a crowd gathers around the radio listeners house, the listener must close his windows and tune down the radio, the registrar ruled.


Divorce On Ground of “Radio Mania”

The Sunday Times | December 2nd, 1923

Alleging “radio mania”, Mrs. Cora May White, thirty-three, of Minneapolis, today filed suit here asking a divorce from Gerald White. In her complaint, Mrs. White alleges that her husband paid more attention to his radio apparatus than to her or their home and that the “radio mania” has alienated his affections.


Children and Radio

Lodi News-Sentinel  | July 9th, 1938

The discovery made by a survey of a thousand high school children that many boys and girls spend more than two hours a day listening to the radio is disturbing. It is a bad practice, no matter how good the programs may be. Since much of the listening is done in the afternoon, it keeps children indoors when they ought to be outside getting exercise in the fresh air and sunlight.


Radio’s Effect on Children

The Milwaukee Sentinel | November 3rd, 1946

We are all aware of the questionable influence of certain types of radio programs, such as the mystery serials, exert upon the impressionable pre-adolescent. What we are not so aware of are some of the less obvious but nevertheless harmful effects of extensive and indiscriminate radio listening on the adolescent. For example, the teenager who is having difficulty in adjustment has too often used the radio as a means of emotional overstimulation or as a retreat into a shadow world of reality.


Mother Offers Valuable Thoughts About the Radio

Daily News | November 7th, 1929

An adult who unthinkingly allows a radio to run incessantly as a background to every home activity is hindering the sensitive child (or even a normal one) in developing concentration, discrimination and fineness of taste.


Exciting Radio Programs Disturb Youngster’s Sleep

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  | April 29th, 1944

As every mother knows, often to her dismay–the radio causes a tremendous amount of friction between parents and children, and certainly presents a kind of obstacle to a smooth ending of the day, which parents were not faced with before this invention came along.


Radio Waves Seem to Affect Homing Pigeons

Naugatuok Daily News | January 20th, 1945

The Army Signal Corps discloses it is trying to find out why radio waves seem to upset a homing pigeon’s sense of direction. That pigeons are affected by radio waves has long been suspected. Three separate Signal Corps tests with different groups of pigeons produced effects confirming the suspicion.


Death Strikes Birds in Air; Radio Currents Suspected

The New York Times  | March 24th, 1924

Death struck swiftly into a flock of blackbirds as they were passing over the J.R. Lippincott farm today, and hundreds of little bodies, rendered lifeless in some puzzling manner, rained down among the fruit trees. Only part of the flock was affected, death was instantaneous and the bodies showed no sign of poison. The best guess seems to be that some form of static electricity was responsible. One suggestions is that conflicting radio currents in some fashion caused the death of the birds.


Radio Menace Leads Actors to Mobilize

The New York Times  | January 27th, 1925

There is no more important question before the theatre than the radio. I want to warn all present against the peril of ridiculing or underestimating its effect on the theatre. 


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