The Voice of Newfoundland

The Voice of Newfoundland: A Social History of the Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland,1939-1949

JEFF A. WEBB
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442689367
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Voice of Newfoundland
    Book Description:

    The Voice of Newfoundlandstudies cultural and political changes in Newfoundland from 1939 to 1949 by taking a close look at the Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland's radio programming and the responses of their listeners.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8936-7
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-15)

    Through the hardship of the Great Depression, the destruction of the Second World War, and the fierce political debates of the late 1940s, Newfoundland families gathered around their radio receivers, straining to hear radio station VONF – the ‘Voice of Newfoundland.’ While radio broadcasting had similar effects around the world during its golden age of the 1940s, its reception in Newfoundland had some exceptional characteristics. That country suffered a long depression that lasted from the end of the First World War to the start of the Second, and then an economic boom during the 1940s that resulted in a revolution in...

  5. 1 Career of Service: The Emergence of Public Broadcasting
    (pp. 16-42)

    ‘Only those who have experienced it,’ complained J.T. Downey, ‘can conceive of the monotony of life in most of our outport communities as minister.’¹ The solution, he suggested to Deputy Colonial Secretary Mews, was to create a St John’s–based radio broadcasting station that would entertain and enlighten rural people. Such a station could provide entertainment as well as a full range of information, including prices of consumer goods, notices of the availability of bait, and weather forecasts. Many people during the 1920s believed that the modern technology of radio could end the isolation of rural life. The idealism of...

  6. 2 Addressing the Population at Large: The Government’s Use of Broadcasting
    (pp. 43-69)

    Joseph Smallwood had welcomed the development of a high-power centralized radio broadcast station that could knit the county together. Ten months later, when the Commission’s Department of Education began a series of educational broadcasts, Smallwood again expressed to his radio audience his hope for the role that radio could take:

    You know, I don’t think there’s been an item of news more fundamentally important to this country for a long time – for if there was a country in which radio broadcasting could and should be a godsend, it’s Newfoundland, with its population so far-flung and so widely scattered over six...

  7. 3 Entertainment and Enlightenment: Music and News on Newfoundland Radio
    (pp. 70-111)

    Days before the BCN signed on the air, Smallwood expressed his hope for the cultural role the station would have. He wanted it to have an ‘educational’ function that helped the people overcome the difficulties of the Great Depression, but he also wanted the station to create a Newfoundland popular culture:

    I certainly hope that plays, sketches, poems and other forms of literature with the ‘stamp of Newfoundland’ on them will begin to be written for frequent presentation on this powerful new transmitter that’ll soon be covering the whole island of Newfoundland. In that way more perhaps, can be done...

  8. 4 Gibraltar of North America: Wartime Radio
    (pp. 112-141)

    The BCN had signed on the air at a time of building international tensions. It hardly had time to develop its schedule before Galgay and the Board of Directors had to adjust to wartime conditions. As German troops moved into Poland, the Commission introduced censorship and wartime restrictions. As part of the empire, Newfoundland was at war when the United Kingdom declared war, several days before Canada in a symbolic act of independence declared war separately. There was little feeling that Newfoundland might stay out of the conflict, and people’s immediate reaction was to steel themselves for the hardship that...

  9. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  10. 5 Most Important Work: Broadcasting the Confederation Debates
    (pp. 142-169)

    The wartime economic revival had raised Newfoundlanders’ expectations for a better life and reopened the question of what sort of government they would have. Between October 1946 and January 1948, the BCN embarked on an ambitious project that fulfilled the highest potential of public broadcasting and exemplified the impact broadcasting could have upon political life – the broadcast of the proceedings of the constitutional debates of the National Convention. Joseph Smallwood, who led the campaign to join Canada, later claimed a central place for these broadcasts and his own mastery of the medium:

    I had spent many years broadcasting and I...

  11. 6 Personal and Intimate Character: The Transitions of Post-war Radio, 1945–1949
    (pp. 170-204)

    We have examined the BCN’s role in the confederation debate, but not many of the other questions faced by the Corporation after the war. In reflecting upon the BCN operations during 1945, Galgay emphasized the public service of the ‘national institution.’

    A review of the operations disclose that a large volume of public service was rendered. Apart from the features of entertainment the Corporation has become a National Institution for the dissemination of News, Public Announcements, Educational Addresses to isolated Folk as well as to the larger centres of population, to the men in the lumber woods, in the mines,...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 205-211)

    The CBC operations in Newfoundland after 1949 had a significance that warrants its own study, but we can offer a few words about the continuity and discontinuity with VONF. Galgay’s continued presence at the helm of what became the Newfoundland division of the CBC, until his death in 1966, gave CBN a measure of continuity with its past that stretched back into its days as the privately owned commercial radio station that he and Butler had started. The iconic Newfoundland programs the Barrelman and the Doyle News Bulletin, for example both continued into the 1950s, although there were changes. Shortly...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 212-220)

    Historians of the broadcasting systems in other parts of the British commonwealth have emphasized the administrative history of their respective national broadcasting corporations. They often examine how policy makers tried to reconcile the commercial impulse of American popular radio with their notions of the cultural uplift exemplified by John Reith’s BBC. Other scholars have attempted to use content analysis of particular programs to capture the ideological and gender messages imbedded in broadcasts.¹ This book has attempted to integrate an analysis of state policies and the material factors involved in the production of radio programming with the social context in which...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 221-254)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 255-262)
  16. Index
    (pp. 263-272)