By this period in American history, radio was becoming very important to the entire nation. People would spend their evenings sitting in their living rooms listening to programs, being entertained, a

By this period in American history, radio was becoming very important to the entire nation.  People would spend their evenings sitting in their living rooms listening to programs, being entertained, and gaining a greater understand of the world around them.

For this assignment, look online, and find an episode of a popular radio show from the time period that we are studying (nothing modern; the show should be from the 1920s-1940s)*.  YouTube is often a good source, as is Old Radio World 

Listen to the episode, then create a PowerPoint presentation about it.  This presentation should be about 10 slides long.  Remember: every slide needs a citation for the information/images on it!

You should include a link to the show you listened to, a visual image about the show, and a brief description of what the show was about.

Then, think like a historian!  (Because yes: historians who study pop culture are absolutely a thing.)  You should tell me what the radio show you chose can reveal about American society at the time.  Remember: these shows were created so that people would like them.  Their goal is to appeal to people.  Therefore, the writers/producers/etc. of radio shows created something they thought people would like, and if the show was popular,  that means they succeeded!  A radio show (or, for that matter, a novel or movie or TV show or podcast or blog or whatever else it might be) can tell historians what people liked, what people felt comfortable with, and what people’s assumptions were.

For example, think about questions like these (not every question will be relevant to every show, but this should give you an idea of the sorts of things you should be thinking about): who are the “bad guys” or the “good guys”, if it’s the kind of show that has them?  What problems do the characters deal with?  What constitutes a “happy ending”?  What are the roles of men or women, or people of different races?  What are the assumptions the writers are making?  If it’s a scary show, what did the radio producers think people at the time were afraid of?  If it’s a funny show, what did people at the time think was funny, and would we still think so?  If the show you find still has its original commercials, those can be very informative too!


Here are some of the radio shows you may encounter, but feel free to use other ones from the time as well.  There’s something for everyone: comedy, suspense, true crime drama, superhero adventures, hard-boiled detective stories, science fiction, westerns, and adaptations of movies and classic books**.

“The Abbott and Costello Show”

“Amos ‘n Andy”

“Fibber McGee and Molly”

“Lights Out”



“Gang Busters”

“The Adventures of Superman”

“The Green Hornet”

“Captain Midnight”

“The Shadow”

“The Adventures of Philip Marlowe”

“Richard Diamond, Private Detective”

“Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”

“The Lone Ranger”

“The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”

“Lux Radio Theatre”

“Mercury Theatre on the Air / Campbell Playhouse” (it changed its name)

*If you’re interested in more recent radio dramas, I know some really good ones, so shoot me an email and I’ll point you in the right direction!  Just don’t use them in this assignment.

** Including, infamously, War of the Worlds; check out this (Links to an external site.) tragicomedy for proof that current Americans aren’t the first to be fooled by fake news!

Rubric PowerPoint PowerPoint Criteria Ratings Pts This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Following Instructions Does it answer the question? Does it cite sources properly? Is it the right number and type of slides?

This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Artistry Are the slides easy to read? Do they make sense? Do they avoid excessive ugliness? 

This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Mechanics Are the grammar, word choice, spelling, punctuation, etc. acceptable? 

chapter 23 ) in the textbook

23. The Great Depression

Old Radio World

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