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Waves of Opposition

Labor and the Struggle for Democratic Radio

A riveting look at the rise of labor radio

In Waves of Opposition, Elizabeth Fones-Wolf describes and analyzes the battles over the powerful new medium of radio, which helped spark the massive upsurge of organized labor during the Depression. She demonstrates its importance as a weapon in an ideological war between labor and business, where corporations used radio to sing the praises of individualism and consumerism, while unions emphasized equal rights, industrial democracy, and social justice.

Organized chronologically, the work explores the advent of local labor radio stations such as WCFL and WEVD, labor's anti_censorship campaigns, and unionist experiments with early FM broadcasting. Through extensive use of business and union archives, as well as broadcasting industry records, Fones_Wolf demonstrates how radio became a key component of organized labor's efforts to contest businesses' domination of political discourse throughout the thirties, forties, and fifties. Waves of Opposition concludes by claiming that labor's virtual disappearance from American media today helps explain in part why unions have become so marginalized and offers important historical lessons to those seeking to revitalize organized labor.

"Fones-Wolf tells her story extremely well and constructs it on a foundation of archival research and general reading that is impressive indeed."--Labor History

"Waves of Opposition is a significant book, and useful to organizers."--Social Policy

"Extensive archival research explores labor-owned radio stations and productions of local and network labor shows for news and entertainment. . . . Potential parallels with current debates about spectrum allocation and sustained class bias in broadcasting abound. . . . Recommended."Choice

"Elizabeth Fones-Wolf has written a definitive history of how, from the 1930s to the 1950s, unions struggled with corporations for radio outlets, airtime, and audience attention, in both national and local arenas."--Journal of American History

"Waves of Opposition is an important addition to the literature in the radio reform movement, moving beyond the emphasis on policy debates to direct our attention to the ways in which movements struggled on a day-to-day basis to air their views in an often hostile environment."--American Journalism

"Elizabeth Fones-Wolf has written an intriguing volume on the history of the U.S. labor movement's radio broadcasting efforts. . . .The book is thoroughly researched, gracefully written, and uncovers a little-known aspect of labor history."--Jhistory

"Elizabeth Fones-Wolf and Ken Fones-Wolf have written a nuanced, well argued monograph on the role of religion in Operation Dixie, the attempt by the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) to organize southern workers after World War II. . . . An illuminating study for a variety of historians."--Journal of American History

Elizabeth Fones-Wolf is a professor of history at West Virginia University, and the author of the award-winning Selling Free Enterprise: The Business Assault on Labor and Liberalism, 1945-1960.

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