The Golden Ages of radio and Hollywood unite : adaptation as self-regulation and promotion in the Lux Radio Theatre, 1936-1939




Edmonds, Haden Scott

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The Lux Radio Theatre was one of the most popular, highest rated, and longest running radio programs of the early to mid-20th century. J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency that produced the program, successfully established a format for radio anthology drama by adapting popular films for broadcasts and featuring A-list Hollywood stars. The translation of films and their stars to broadcasting was not without its challenges for ad agencies like JWT, though, especially in avoiding featuring objectionable material while still meeting the promotional goals for the program’s sponsor and its product(s). The radio-era advertising agency held a unique and powerful position at the center of radio program production and as a mediator of interests between sponsors, federal regulators, national broadcasters, and special interest groups, This thesis employs textual analysis of radio adaptations of pre-Code films to argue that JWT capitalized on a unique opportunity with Lux Radio Theatre to selectively remove some censurable material while subtly confirming other cultural values, processes that both aligned with internal and external content regulation standards and met its own promotional and ideological mandates. This project also considers the ethics of preservation of radio materials from this era due to the limited documentation available currently on many commercial radio programs, including Lux Radio Theatre


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