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Europe - on Air

Europe - on Air: Interwar Projects for Radio Broadcasting

Suzanne Lommers
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 326
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  • Book Info
    Europe - on Air
    Book Description:

    Radio broadcasting may seem old-fashioned nowadays, but early radio infrastructures and programs in Europe were the real social media of their time. They laid the foundation for how we experience European unification and global interconnectedness today. This timely volume takes you on a tour through the early days of broadcasting. Rarely studied sources from international organizations reveal a wide variety of new actors, activities, and debates that jointly shaped broadcasting and society institutions. These stories often remain underexposed in histories of technology, broadcasting, and Europe. Europe - on Air illustrates how people in broadcasting were debating issues ranging from institutionalizing radio to wireless and wired network construction. This book specifically acknowledges how the rivalries were solved between various systems like Radio Luxembourg and the International Broadcasting Union, the attempts to save Europe's civilization amid the chaos of war and peace, and the creation and distribution of truly international programs as early as 1926. The people involved in these transnational broadcasting efforts had some crucial decisions to make in order to actively contribute to European unification.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1665-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. 9-10)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. 11-12)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. 13-14)
  6. Chapter 1 Introduction: European Broadcasting Visions
    (pp. 15-40)

    In 1944 the British, Belgian and Polish engineers Peter Pendleton Eckersley, Auguste Hubert and B. Tenenbaum together sought to re-design the existing but by then paralyzed organization of broadcasting in Europe.¹ The world was at war and the Allied and Axis powers had been fighting one another with the help of modern technologies like radio broadcasting, wireless telephony, and telegraphy. Eckersley, Hubert, and Tenenbaum proposed a ready-made plan for a new start for broadcasting directly after the end of the war. Their “European Broadcasting Alliance” plan described in detail a broadcasting infrastructure that assured free expression to the various rival...

  7. Chapter 2 Elites on the Barricades for Broadcasting
    (pp. 41-72)

    Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) was a European and truly internationally oriented personality. He was born in Italy but lived in Great Britain for most of his adult life. Already during his lifetime the world celebrated his achievements, as an inventor and entrepreneur in long distance wireless telegraphy, telephony, and broadcasting.² Marconi is often quoted as being the first to transmit an actual signal – the letter “S” – over long distances across the ocean from Europe to the United States.³ As a boy he was fascinated by the idea of transmitting signals through the air from point A to B. He created his...

  8. Chapter 3 Europe in the Making
    (pp. 73-136)

    With the above words Arthur Burrows ended his speech before the Committee for Moral Disarmament during the Disarmament Conference in 1933, organized by the League of Nations. Burrows was Secretary General of the International Broadcasting Union (IBU). He addressed a committee that considered the issue of moral disarmament its most important task. Above all, the committee aimed to change what it considered a dominant mindset amongst peoples across the world. This was based on nationalist thinking linked to warfare and the committee wanted to move towards a more “internationalist” mindset that would enhance peace and mutual understanding. Such a change...

  9. Chapter 4 Battles over Europe’s Borders
    (pp. 137-178)

    Thus César Searchinger describes the mind-blowing global relay event on February 12, 1932 that fired everyone’s imagination: a radio speech given by his Holiness the Pope. It was a speech by “the Old Gentleman,” the code word for this unimaginable event. Up till then Searchinger had been working as the first foreign and overseas radio representative of the U.S. Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in London. He had mostly worked on two-way relays between the United Kingdom and the United States, but occasionally arranged the relaying of an event from the European continent over the nation-wide CBS broadcasting network. A few...

  10. Chapter 5 War and Peace in the Sky
    (pp. 179-234)

    Thus reads a line from the well-known Nazi Party anthem. These anthems propagated a specific sense of belonging to the people of Germany. At the same time they communicated a message of German domination to all peoples outside Germany’s borders. Hitler’s Nazi Party found that this and similar propaganda activities were crucial for diffusing its message among the masses. Hitler’sReichsminister für Volksaufklärung und PropagandaJoseph Goebbels became the symbol of the propaganda machine that Nazi Germany established in the course of the 1930s. Already in 1933 he stated that broadcasting was the most influential and important intermediary between ideological...

  11. Chapter 6 Broadcasting a Musical Culture
    (pp. 235-288)

    Béla Bartók (1881-1945) wrote these words on January 10, 1931 in a letter to the Rumanian diplomat and music historian Octavian Beu. Bartók was an internationally renowned Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist. He was a man with a vision. He had an idea of what society should look like and thought this could be created via cultural expression like music. In his eyes, culture lay at the heart of society. Bartók recalled how his visions were born in a bar in 1904 when he heard a Transylvanian-born barmaid singing. He immediately committed the song to paper. “Now I have a...

  12. Chapter 7 Conclusion: Internationalism in Practice
    (pp. 289-295)

    Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi had clear views on the role technology should play in the reconstruction of Europe after the Great War. He was the leader of the Pan European Movement, and a well-known lobbyist for European unification. Within a year of the establishment of the IBU, he remarked that technology had basically made Europe get lost in a universalizing world as a result of ever increasing connections.¹ No more than ten years later, the Austrian Oskar Czeija, in his role as director of the IBU Rapprochement Committee, would speak at one of the conferences of the Pan European Movement held...

  13. Appendix
    (pp. 296-302)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 303-319)
  15. Summary
    (pp. 320-324)

    In the eyes of the ruling international elites, the Great War had been driven by a rising nationalism that left Europe’s civilization in shambles. The elites argued that a new modernism, combined with a world that was increasingly technologically interconnected, was to blame for the ruins, anguish, and hatred that dominated peoples’ minds after 1918. These intellectual elites tried to rebuild Europe’s civilization and create awareness beyond national boundaries. In this context, broadcasting experts in Europe built the first radio broadcasting infrastructures inside and beyond their borders. This book examines if, how, and why the promoters of broadcasting linked their...

  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 325-326)