The Development of Radio and Television
Radio is a part of most people’s everyday lives, but more so is television. Television virtually emerged from radio, which set the foundation down for what is known today as the main source of mass media and communication. The reason being that almost all households in developed nations has a television. With such a norm it is often overlooked as to the controversy caused by the T.V which is almost literally the addition of pictures to radio. Many interesting things happened with the emergence of the television from the radio.
The radio is one of the, if not most, important elements in the development of mass media. The emergence of radio took place in the early 1920’s and for the first time it was possible to reach a large number of people at the same time. Radio at first was used in World War I where it served only to transmit important messages to and from certain, specific points. It was after the war when radio started to become commercialized. The commercialization of radio took different steps in the development process depending on the social and political circumstances in the particular country. These differences were in “propaganda radio”, “elite radio”, and “democratic radio”. Democratic Radio is more familiar to us and it was developed according to what the audiences wanted to hear. This type of radio is what we know radio as today; freedom to listen to what we want to listen to.
This emphasis on the audience is what made the radio so popular and with this popularity came the opportunity of profiting from advertisements and promotions. More money being put into these programs brought about better quality. As more and more people listened to these quality programs the people taking part in them became popular with the audiences, which in some cases were spread nation wide. These people were becoming better known as celebrities. The sound, expression and personality of the voice were all a part of the popular notion of a celebrity. It wasn’t hard to believe the excitement that the audiences felt when they found out that these celebrities were going on to T.V also.
All of the excitement seemed a waste when pictures were actually added and viewed by the same audiences. The former radio audiences had different views on how these actors actually looked and when they saw that they didn’t look the way they thought they would they became upset and confused. Former radio actors who didn’t fit in with the part according to their appearance were replaced by people who did or in a more extreme case like the ‘Amos n’ Andy’ show, the whole show was cancelled. With the introduction of television came the visual bias which basically meant that all the emphasis was on how the person behind the tube looked and it no longer mattered what this person was saying or the purpose for which they served. This phenomenon is better known as the ‘predominance of the image’ in which the content of the program we watch doesn’t matter but what matters is purely the visual aspect or how the actor or actress looks. Everyone has heard of the famous saying; “Don’t judge a book by its cover” and this is clearly what has taken place with television because we continue to constantly judge shows on the way that the actors and actresses look. A popular show from the 90’s was ‘Baywatch’ which consisted of some of the worst acting ever seen, yet the ratings were extremely high. Almost all males who watched this show didn’t watch for the actresses’ acting skills but rather for the enjoyment of watching attractive women run around in bathing suits.
This type of visual bias has become so common and normal that we don’t often stop and think about the actual content of television programming. We don’t necessarily have to feel guilty about this but we should realize that the world is not as perfect as it’s shown on TV. Some people realize this to a great extent but others do not and that’s where problems can arise from the unfair treatment of others in the real world. Television programming is not the problem, we the viewers see what we want to see.