Radio is a transmission device, which sends electromagnetic signals over a long distance, to deliver information from one place to another. Often thought of as a means for communication or entertainment, the effect of radio in the political climate is often overlooked. Nevertheless throughout the ages radio has proven to be a highly influential political too. Its influence able to be recorded from the early days of radio where Hitler and the Nazi’s used it as a tool to deliver propaganda to mass audiences during world war two, to the modern day where talk-back programs and shock jock radio presenters are contributing to the shaping of not only political campaigns but our entire political climate.
Since the very beginnings of radio broadcasting, radio has been used as a highly influential political tool. This epitomised by the significant role radio played in the German media during Hitler’s rise to power and his reign over Germany. Joseph Goebbels who Hitler officially appointed Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda had total control of communications media. He predicted that, "the radio [would] be to the twentieth century what the press was to the nineteenth" and that it would open new paths for Germany’s political life. (Goebbels, 1938, pp. 197-207) Hitler, and even more so Goebbels, saw the massive propaganda weapon radio could become. Effectively, Goebbels concluded that the government “couldn’t ignore the radio and it’s possibilities”, deciding it was going to be a key tool in the delivery of propaganda; Nazi Germany becoming one of the first totalitarian states to utilize radio as a propaganda tool. (Aylett, 2011)
Seeing as radio sets were too expensive for many of the Germans, Goebbel’s and the Nazi’s introduced an affordable radio called the Volksempfänger meaning " the people's receiver", so Nazi propaganda and approved broadcasts, consisti¬¬¬ng of news, propaganda, folk music and classical music could reach a mass audience. In 1939, by which time the Volksempfänger had made radio a mass commodity, the number of radio listeners had grown from 4.3 million to 5.5 million over a period of fifteen months, an increase of 25 precent. (Hadamovsky, 1934, pp. 22-26) Radio proving itself to not only be the most important political instrument at the hands of the government, but to also be winning the hearts of the people. Nazi propagandist Artur Freudenberg declared, "It is imperative in the political interest of the state not only that the whole nation participates in broadcasting, but that the entire nation is ready to receive radio programmes at any moment." (Aylett, 2011) ¬¬
Nazi propganda was particularly effective due to the fact that the leaders were great public speakers, and on the radio there was no escape from Hitler when he was broadcasting live; the Reich Broadcasting Corporation a monopoly. It considered most politically incorrect and ‘foolhardy’ to turn off when Hitler, the ‘Fuhrer’ was speaking. (Aylett, 2011) This meant that Hitler and Goebbels could virtually brainwash the population with their fiery rhetoric, using as Hitler confided to Hermann Rauschning a German Conservative Revolutionary, "Mental confusion, contradictions of feeling, indecisiveness, panic—[as their] weapons." (Bruner, 1941, pp. 311-337) The amount of censorship and the content of what was broadcasted allowing the radio to be a master tool for manipulation in politics, people taking everything heard on the radio as ‘gospel’. Radio inevitably largely to blame for 38 million people becoming so supportive of Hitler in the early 30’s. ¬¬¬
In the modern political scape, whilst radio does not tend to be used so much as a tool of manipulation as it was during Hitler’s rise to power, it still is a highly influential political tool. The ways in which people listen to radio, either for entertainment, whilst at work or driving in their cars; there is a sense of convenience about how it is received. Many...
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