Waves of Opposition

Labor and the Struggle for Democratic Radio
Author: Elizabeth Fones-Wolf
A riveting look at the rise of labor radio
Paper – $28
978-0-252-07364-9
Publication Date: October 2006
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About the Book

Radio sparked the massive upsurge of organized labor during the Great Depression. The powerful new medium became an important weapon in the ideological war between labor and business. Corporations used radio to sing the praises of individualism and consumerism, while unions emphasized equal rights, industrial democracy, and social justice.

Elizabeth Fones-Wolf analyzes the battle to utilize, and control, the airwaves in radio's early era. Working chronologically, she explores the advent of local labor radio stations such as WCFL and WEVD, labor's campaigns against corporate censorship, and union experiments with early FM broadcasting. Using union archives and broadcast industry records, Fones-Wolf demonstrates radio's key role in organized labor's efforts to fight business's domination of political discourse throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. She concludes with a look at how labor's virtual disappearance from today's media helps explain why unions have become so marginalized, and offers important historical lessons for revitalizing organized labor.

About the Author

Elizabeth Fones-Wolf is a professor of history at West Virginia University. She is the author of Selling Free Enterprise: The Business Assault on Labor and Liberalism, 1945-1960 and the coauthor of Struggle for the Soul of the Postwar South: White Evangelical Protestants and Operation Dixie.

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Selling Free Enterprise coverStruggle for the Soul of the Postwar South cover