Shadow of the New Deal

The Victory of Public Broadcasting
Author: Josh Shepperd
Behind the scenes at the emergence of American public broadcasting
Cloth – $110
Paper – $28
eBook – $19.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 05/23/2023
Cloth: 05/23/2023
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About the Book

Despite uncertain beginnings, public broadcasting emerged as a noncommercial media industry that transformed American culture. Josh Shepperd looks at the people, institutions, and influences behind the media reform movement and clearinghouse the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB) in the drive to create what became the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio.

Founded in 1934, the NAEB began as a disorganized collection of undersupported university broadcasters. Shepperd traces the setbacks, small victories, and trial-and-error experiments that took place as thousands of advocates built a media coalition premised on the belief that technology could ease social inequality through equal access to education and information. The bottom-up, decentralized network they created implemented a different economy of scale and a vision of a mass media divorced from commercial concerns. At the same time, they transformed advice, criticism, and methods adopted from other sectors into an infrastructure that supported public broadcasting in the 1960s and beyond.

About the Author

Josh Shepperd is an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Colorado Boulder and director of the Sound Submissions Project at the Library of Congress.


"Well researched and documented." --Choice

"Shadow of the New Deal: The Victory of Public Broadcasting reports on the decades-long slog of educational and public-interest broadcasters after the enactment of the 1934 law establishing the Federal Communications Commission to carve out an enduring public broadcast option." --American Journalism

"Shadow of the New Deal is an ideal introduction for scholars new to the study of radio. . . . The book has an obvious appeal to media historians; indeed, it will no doubt become the standard reference work on this phase in radio history, though it offers fruitful information for scholars of other areas as well." --H-Net Reviews

"Shadow of the New Deal: The Victory of Public Broadcasting makes a timely contribution that can enhance ongoing efforts to reconceptualize, retool, and rebuild a robust public media system in the United States. It offers many valuable historical lessons that public media proponents working in academic and nonacademic spaces should heed." --Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

"Shepperd knows his likely audience well. This book is a clear call for communication and media scholars to apply their research in ways that can have a tangible impact on civic life. . . . Shepperd has made a substantial contribution to the field." --Journalism History


“Equipped with a wealth of archival research and a fresh perspective, Shepperd reshapes the history of public broadcasting convincingly and with great respect for the practitioners, researchers, and reformers responsible for its development and influence.”--Deborah L. Jaramillo, author of The Television Code: Regulating the Screen to Safeguard the Industry


•  Winner, BEA Book Award, Broadcast Education Association, 2024
•  Finalist, New Deal Book Award, Living New Deal, 2024
•  Runner-Up, History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Book Award (AEJMC), 2024