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toastedaDetroit News, May 16, 1931. Most nations capable of establishing national broadcasting systems in the Twenties and Thirties followed the British model of development, creating listener-supported, noncommercial systems owned and operated by the state. The U.S., where broadcasting was born, opted for privately-owned stations financed through commercial advertising. (I wrote a spellbinding book about how and why this happened.) There are very few recordings of broadcasts from this period, so satirical commentaries like this editorial cartoon are actually among the best available sources for information on what early broadcast advertising was like. At first I thought the guy in the second frame was intended as a caricature of Alexander Woollcott, but Woollcott didn’t start his broadcasting career as CBS’s “Town Crier” until 1933. Still looks a lot like him though.

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