Rockefeller Underwriting of Local, Regional, and National Educational Broadcasting Experiments, 1934-1940

by Josh Shepperd

Jan 1, 2013
Several publications and recent reports have chronicled John Marshall's decisive place in communication history. Reports by Buxton, Kridel, and Tobias, have examined the Rockefeller Foundation's (RF) crucial role in the formation of educational media in the 1930s, which has included the study and basis of media effects research. As this report will show, Rockefeller initiatives in the 1930s also served as an essential foundation for the development of American educational broadcasting, the precursor to public broadcasting. The RF archives reveal that the origin of noncommercial broadcasting methods and organization commenced as an advocacy response to the Communications Act of 1934, which privatized radio frequency allocations. Experiments between 1934 and 1940 were designed to determine the most effective spatial organization for a non-profit approach to broadcasting. Ultimately educational proponents settled on a national model, influenced by the success of and the Office of Education's Federal Radio Education Committee suggestions.
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