Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Is Radio Menacing Civilization?

The attention-grabbing headline and illustration for this article from the Radio Mirror in 1934 belies the technical nature of some of its arguments. Like those who today fear radiation from cell phones, many in the 1930's, misunderstanding the nature of radio waves, believed they could cause fevers in humans, ignite fires, or even cause airships to crash. Let us just say that humanity was not swept away in an apocalypse of radio-ignited heat. It's also interesting to note that the argument soon shifts to the cultural influence of radio broadcasts, with Shaw claimed "lowered our cultural standards" while Tesla (who has a certain pride of place as the man who discovered the basic principles of radio) took a much more measured stand: ""You can't blame lowering our culture on radio," he insisted, "blame it on yourself and myself. The type of program that comes over the air is the type you and I want to listen to."

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