• "Charlie Lingar (coal miner) and his son listen to their battery radio," 1946. Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration. 

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    Select an item:
    "Charlie Lingar (coal miner) and his son listen to their battery radio," 1946.
    • Date
    • 09/04/1946
    • Creator
    • Department of the Interior. Solid Fuels Administration For War. (04/19/1943 - 06/30/1947)
    • Description
    • Charlie Lingar and his son listen to their battery radio. He has worked for the company for fourteen years but was injured in a mine explosion last December and hasn't been able to work since then. His three room house for which he pays $6.75 mo... more
      Charlie Lingar and his son listen to their battery radio. He has worked for the company for fourteen years but was injured in a mine explosion last December and hasn't been able to work since then. His three room house for which he pays $6.75 monthly has no running water, no toilet, no electricity. Kentucky Straight Creek Coal Company, Belva Mine, abandoned after explosion [in] Dec. 1945, Four Mile, Bell County, Kentucky less
    • Rights
    • Unrestricted
    • Partner
    • National Archives and Records Administration
    • Contributing Institution
    • National Archives at College Park - Still Pictures

  • "Fireside Chat on the Home Front," 1942. Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration. 

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    "Fireside Chat on the Home Front," 1942.
    • Date
    • 10/12/1942
    • Creator
    • President (1933-1945 : Roosevelt). (1933 - 1945)
    • Rights
    • Unrestricted
    • Partner
    • National Archives and Records Administration

  • "June Collyer in her home, Southern California, 1928." Courtesy University of Southern California Libraries. 

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    "June Collyer in her home, Southern California, 1928."
    • Date
    • 1928
    • Creator
    • Dick Whittington Studio
    • Description
    • 3 photographs of June Collyer in front of radio, Southern California, 1928. "Subject: June Collyer in her home; Agency: Bouldin; Client: Majestic Radio Corp[oration]; Number: 3 ea[ch], 1, 1, 1 #4; Size: 8x10; Finish: gl[ossy], Glossy; Year: 1928... more
      3 photographs of June Collyer in front of radio, Southern California, 1928. "Subject: June Collyer in her home; Agency: Bouldin; Client: Majestic Radio Corp[oration]; Number: 3 ea[ch], 1, 1, 1 #4; Size: 8x10; Finish: gl[ossy], Glossy; Year: 1928; Job: 6-29-151"--on envelope. less
    • Rights
    • For uses other than private, contact USC Libraries Special Collections at the e-mail given
      Contact: Special Collections, Doheny Memorial Library, USC Libraries, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0189; specol.edu; phone (213) 821-2366; fax (213) 740-2343more
      For uses other than private, contact USC Libraries Special Collections at the e-mail given
      Contact: Special Collections, Doheny Memorial Library, USC Libraries, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0189; specol.edu; phone (213) 821-2366; fax (213) 740-2343
      USC Libraries Special Collections
      Doheny Memorial Library, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0189
      Specol@usc.edu less
    • Partner
    • University of Southern California. Libraries

  • "UK-Tennessee Basketball game, 1964." Courtesy University of Kentucky, via Kentucky Digital Library. 

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    "UK-Tennessee Basketball game, 1964."
    • Date
    • 1964
    • Creator
    • Sullivan, Claude, 1925-1967
    • Rights
    • This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Physical rights are retained by the owning repository. Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. copy... more
      This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Physical rights are retained by the owning repository. Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. copyright laws. Please go to http://kdl.kyvl.org for more information. less
    • Partner
    • Kentucky Digital Library
      University of Kentucky
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Kentucky

Connecting the country

Radio signaled a major shift in how Americans communicated. Once radios became widespread and affordable, they connected people in ways never before possible. By the 1920s, a few decades after Marconi’s first broadcast, half of urban families owned a radio. More than six million stations had been built. The numbers increased rapidly—by 1940, families were listening to their radios for more than four hours each day.

Radio quickly became a way for American families to stay connected and receive news. This was particularly useful for Americans living in rural areas, which, during the radio's Golden Age, was about half of the country’s population. Before the radio, these isolated towns and families were slow to get the latest news or entertainment. Now, thanks to the radio, they were part of the larger American news and pop-culture phenomena. Particularly after the FCC changed its policy on the number of and space between radio stations after World War II, construction of new broadcast outlets in rural areas meant small towns were getting their own local stations.

In addition to getting the latest news, in close-to-real time, there quickly became a market for programming geared toward rural families. Though widespread radio features like market reports and weather forecasts had immense importance to farming populations, broadcasters quickly incorporated more agriculturally focused programs. Some were local, like farming lectures broadcast from land grant colleges. Others had a broader audience, like NBC's "National Farm and Home Hour." Even the music aimed at this audience was different—networks began incorporating more folk and “barn dance” programs into their lineups, a break from more urban-focused pop acts.

While radio equipment and programming provided for a growing American market, there were still barriers for many. Especially during the Great Depression, purchasing a radio was a big investment. While the radio itself might have brought news and pop culture to rural Americans, those who couldn’t afford the price tag of a new set remained unconnected.