Skip to main content

Full text of ""Classification of Educational Radio Research" (1941)"

See other formats



Issued hy 

With the Cooperation of” the JJ. S. Office of Education 
Federal Security Agency 


Copies may "be obtained at 50 cents 
each, through the Federal Badio 
Education Committee, U. S. Office 
of Education, Washington, D. C. 




H M Beville Jr., Research Manager 

National Broadcasting Company 

Cuthbert Daniel, Office of Radio Research 
Columbia University 

This publication is one of a series issued by the Federal 
Radio Education Committee, which is supported in part by 
contributions from the radio industry, through the National 
Association of Broadcasters, and in part by educational 



Foreword by John W Studebaker. lx 

I. Introduction. 1 

II. Research of Particular Value 

to Broadcasters. 4 

III. Research of Particular Value 

to Teachers. 7 

IV. Research of Particular Value 

to Civic and Administrative 

Groups... 9 


Executive Committee Members 

of the 

Federal Radio Education Committee 

John Elmer, President, Baltimore Broadcasting Corporation 

Sterling Fisher, Director, Department of Education and Talks, 
Columbia Broadcasting System 

Willard E Givens, Executive Secretary, National Education 

Rev. George Johnson, Head, Department of Education, Catholic 
University of America, and Director of the Department 
of Education, National Catholic Welfare Conference 

Harold B McCarty, Director, Station WHA, University of Wisconsin, 
and Representative of the National Association of 
Educational Broadcasters 

Neville Miller, President, National Association of Broadcasters 

Walter G Preston, Jr., Assistant to the Vice President in 
Charge of Programs, National Broadcasting Company 

Andrew D Ring, Assistant Chief Engineer, Federal Communications 

Levering Tyson, President, Muhlenberg College 

John W Studebaker, U S Commissioner of Education, Chairman 

Leonard Power, Consultant, and Coordinator of Research 


F 0 R E W 0 R D 

This classification of educational research, from a 
functional point of view, should prove helpful to researchers and 
to those who expect to benefit from the products of research. 

The scheme of classification proposed by the authors, H M Beville, 
Jr., Research Manager, National Broadcasting Company, and Cuthbert 
Daniel, Office of Radio Research, Columbia University, is valuable 
to civic and educational groups and to broadcasters. 

In addition to classifying research, this report offers 
the readers very brief summaries of what is known in certain areas. 
For example, in discussing the influence of educational broadcasts 
on the thinking of those who listen, research shows that the 
influence is directly proportional to the seriousness with which 
one listens. This fact is very important for teachers, since they 
desire to have their students acquire serious listener attitudes. 

The Federal Radio Education Committee has assumed a large 
share of the responsibility for initiating and for coordinating 
research studies which throw light on several of the areas described 
in this scheme of classification. There yet remains the larger 
job of bringing the researches together under the categories set 
forth in this report. When a ready reference of radio research be¬ 
comes available, many of the most valuable studies will be taken out 
of the realm of the purely academic. We will then have taken a long 
step forward in realizing the potentialities of radio as a cultural 

(Signed) John W Studebaker 

U S Commissioner of Education and 
Chairman, Federal Radio Education 



Recently an educational group producing a program on the subject of 
democracy vent to considerable expense in time and money to bring a Greek 
chorus into the program. This feature undoubtedly added much to the artistic 
perfection of the program. Nevertheless, a feature analysis among listeners 
definitely indicated that the Greek chorus was generally disliked whereas the 
narrator who had less prominence on the program proved a highly popular ele¬ 

Inasmuch as this particular program opened with the Greek chorus it 
is more than likely that its potential audience suffered considerably among 
those impatient listeners who quickly turn to another program when they are 
displeased. In addition, the message intoned by the chorus was largely lost 
upon listeners because their dislike for this form of presentation was a 
reflection of the mental confusion which it produced. Here is an excellent 
example of a program production problem where advance research certainly would 
have been of value to those interested in effectively presenting their message. 

The type of research which produced the results cited above is just 
one of the many varieties of research of value to those working with education¬ 
al programs. However, such data as are now available or may become available 
from studies currently underway are not classified in such a way as to be of 
real value to those who can make the most use of the results. 

There is definite need for a classification of radio audience re¬ 
search according to the users or potential users of research findings. Such 
a classification should be a contribution to the important job of getting 
research results into the hands of those connected with educational broad¬ 
casting. Particularly is this so because it is quite evident that in most 
cases, those who have the greatest need for research findings lack either the 
knowledge, the time, the facilities, or the inclination to search the literature 
for usable data. 

It was suggested to the writers that a classification of this type 
might be developed in the course of planning for the work study group on Re¬ 
search and Educational Broadcasting at the Eleventh Annual Institute for 
Education by Radio (held at the Ohio State University, Columbus, on May 1, 


The object was to construct a time-saver that would permit any person, 
whatever his connection with educational broadcasting, to find and apply more 
easily to his own work, the findings in this field. This classification is 
developed solely for that purpose. There has been no intention to allocate 
particular types of data arbitrarily to particular groups of people. 

Those connected with educational broadcasting may be broadly classified 
as producers, distributors and consumers of educational programs 


A. The producers are all those associated with broadcasting; 
station managers; program,, educational and publicity 
directors; sponsoring educational and public service groups 
and agencies. 

B. The distributors are: teachers in classroom, college and 
normal school; supervisors, and state departments of 

C. The ultimate consumers are the listeners, who would be 
represented by: 

1. Civic groups 

2. Administrative groups 

Although it is unlikely that the listeners will be able to use the 
results of research directly, certain civic and administrative groups repre¬ 
senting them may find several important uses for research data. Typical of 
civic groups are parent-teacher associations, women’s clubs and adult education 
groups. These groups may be said to consume educational broadcasting directly, 
without the mediation of any distributor. (The fact that some of these groups 
may also function as producers of programs should not obscure the fact that 
essentially they represent segments of the listening public.) By adminis¬ 
trative groups are meant the Federal Radio Education Committee, the Federal 
Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the U. S. Office of 
Education and the like. We will distinguish here, then, between four groups 
who may use research in educational radio, namely, broadcasters, teachers, 
civic groups, administrative groups. 

Listener research in educational radio may be classified into two 
main types. 



I. PREFERENCES are mainly of these kinds: 

1. Quantitative, shown by amount of listening, size of 
audience, time of day, etc. 

2. Relative, shown by comparison of radio listening 
with other activities (reading, visiting, theatre 
and movie attendance, sports, etc.), and by 
preferences between programs. 

3. Content, used here to refer to 

3.1 Type of program (classical music, popular music, 
information, comedy, news, fiction) 

3.2 Subject matter (astronomy, history, economics, 
technology, psychology, etc. etc.) 

4. Production, as shown by choosing dramatizations, 
lectures, forums, on-the-spot broadcasts, documentaries, 
serials, etc. 


5 . Analytical, as shown by liking --or disliking -- 
parts of a program (personality types, announcements, 
voices, pace, music, sound effects, transitions, 
build-ups, acting, length of program, etc.) 

II. EFFECTS OE INFLUENCES* May be classified as: 

6. Influences on program preferences. People change 
their radio likes and dislikes. 

7. Initiating or stimulating Influences. Eadio may start 
discussion, reading, other listening or other action. 

8. Changing or ingraining of beliefs and attitudes. 

9. Changing or ingraining of thinking. 

There are then four main groups who may use the results of research 
and nine main subdivisions of researches. Chart 1 indicates the thirty-six 
possible references of research to groups. The twenty-eight references marked 
with an X are discussed in detail in this paper. 

Chart I 

Types of Listener Eesearch and Groups Who May Use Them 

G r o u 

P s . 


"Teachers" ' 




1 . 





























On preferences 










On attitudes 





On thinking 



* - Each of these four types of effect may be subdivided according to the magni¬ 
tude of the effect. A change in attitude, for example, may be an ’'impression," 
an "influence," a "change," or a "reform," depending upon how permanent it is 
and upon how many persons are influenced. Impressions are defined as effects 
upon listeners at the time they listen; influences last longer but do not 
necessarily result in habits; changes do affect individual habits; reforms are 
the effects of radio as they show in the whole population, they are simply 
widespread and persisting changes. It is to be hoped that research in edu¬ 
cational broadcasting will be able eventually to supply information on the 
extent of each type of effect listed above (6, 7> 8, 9); most research so far 
has been concerned with the more superficial impressions and influences rather 
than with the deeper, more permanent, changes and reforms. 

Research of Particular Value to Broadcasters 

(l) Broadcasters want to know the size of the audience of individual 
programs, the trend in audience size, the proportion of regular and oecasional 
listeners, and something about the social and geographic structure of the 
audience. Available commercial surveys supply most of this information for ^he 
national and a few local programs but will in general be too expensive for 
educational programs,* 

One of the most widespread errors in educational radio is the broad¬ 
casting of programs far too advanced in cultural and intellectual level for most 
of the radio listeners in the country. Educational programs Judged by experts 
to be of the highest quality usually employ a vocabulary, pace, and range of 
concept that puts them far beyond the vast majority of listeners. Unpublished 
studies on file at the Office of Radio Research at Columbia University, data 
offered in the recent volume Radio and the Printed Page by Dr Paul F Lazarsfeld, 
and Beville’s study mentioned above, all agree in finding that the audience 
for the well known adult educational programs consists mainly of high school 
and college graduates, while close to half of the adult radio audience has had 
no high school education. 

There is known to be a strong correlation between income and edu¬ 
cational level. Since income is more easily estimated than educational level, 
it is frequently substituted for the latter in listener research. For this 
reason the findings reported by Beville** showing that those of higher income 
listen much more to educational programs, may be interpreted to mean that persons 
of higher educational level listen more to educational programs. If radio is 
to fulfill its promise in education, it is clear that this situation must be 
widely changed. In addition to supplying educational material to the few of 
high income and high educational level, who need it least, educational broad¬ 
casters should turn their attention to supplying more easily assimilable 
educational material to the vast majority of the population, of low income and 
educational level. 

An over-all picture of the audience to a single program can be 
obtained quickly and inexpensively if the services of a volunteer civic or edu¬ 
cational group can be secured for making coincidental telephone calls. For 
example, R H Hudson, of the Rocky Mountain Radio Council, (Denver, Colorado), 
estimated the size of the audience to several programs that the Council sponsors 
in several communities by this method. The survey was completed in a few days 
and the cost was very small. 

* - Many examples and applications of information of this type may be found in 
H MBeville’s report “Social Stratification of the Radio Audience," 1939> 
mimeographed, $1.00. Available through the Office of Radio Research at Columbia 

** - Beville, H M, "The ABCD's of Radio Audiences," Public Opinion Quarterly , 
June 19^0, Vol. 4, No. 2. .. . 


An inexpensive and reliable survey service of the type organized by 
G E Garrison of the Wayne University Broadcasting Guild (Detroit, Michigan) 
will supply information of this type to broadcasters. Such a survey does not 
have the shortcoming common to most of the commercial services of failing to 
adequately reach families of low income level, which have no telephones. 

(2) Broadcasters can use data on relative preferences (that is, 
preferences between programs) to estimate the desirability of changing edu¬ 
cational programs to more nearly resemble preferred types. An analysis of pro¬ 
grams most preferred should provide plenty of hints for the improvement of 
existing educational series. 

(3) Bata supplied by research showing preferred types of program 
content (news, comedy, fiction, education) can be used by broadcasters of edu¬ 
cational programs to provide leads for the remodeling of educational programs 
in terms of preferred types. It is possible that educational programs that are 
to attract and hold the attention of large masses of people must actually be 
made to resemble other types of programs that are most popular before mass 
education by radio can be successful. At present "educational’' programs are 
actually the least preferred type. Many people do learn a good deal from other 
types of program, of course, and it may well be that the popular daytime 
serials provide the form in which educational programs must be cast, before they 
will be widely accepted. Only research can decide this question, and such re¬ 
search is urgently needed by educational broadcasters. 

The Evaluation of School Broadcasts group studied the effect of a 
change in content of educational music programs in cooperation with the Columbia 
Broadcasting System. Symphonic music using familiar thematic material taken 
from the folk music of America was presented on the assumption that familiarity 
of theme would help make symphonic music more understandable to students. Al¬ 
though the study is not yet complete, it appears that themes must be more 
familiar than those used in this study if they are to aid in increasing under¬ 
standing and enjoyment of symphonic music. A large proportion of the American 
folk themes used turned out to be unfamiliar to most of the children who 

It is also possible to decide by means of listener research what 
general subjects and what topics are preferred by the radio audience. It has 
been known for quite a while that astronomy ranks high in interest among 
science topics. Further research will uncover many other particular content 
interests of this sort, although but little is known of these preferences now. 

(4) Broadcasters can use immediate information supplied by research 
concerning preferred types of program production . The time is rapidly passing 
when educators-in-radio feel compelled by considerations of dignity to 
differentiate educational programs from entertainment. Progressive educators 
are unanimous in their acceptance of the principle that effective education must 
begin in a language, style and form acceptable to the persons being educated. 
Since radio programs are freely chosen, acceptability must mean preferability. 

If for example it is found by research methods that not more than 20 
per cent of the time on the air can be spent in carrying the message of the 
program explicitly, then educators-in-radio will have to modify their programs 
widely from existing practice. 


(5) Those concerned directly with program production can get a great 
deal of valuable information from research done on analytical preferences . It 
is here that much commercial listener research has "been concentrated. A good 
example of the technique of obtaining information on analytical preferences has 
been published by Coutant.* Some of the results of this research are available 
to the public, many more can be deduced from the programs that are. so popular. 
Detailed research of this type is not needed so urgently in educational radio 
because there is no requirement to make educational programs as smoothly un¬ 
objectionable as are the commercial programs. However, it will sometimes be 
found** that the listener rating of a program depends on a very few features 
(distinguishability of voices, dramatization by speakers, pacing) and that 
conscious control and improvement of these will greatly improve the program. 

(6) The influence of programs on preferences themselves is now 
beginning to become a subject for research. For example. Miss Jeanette Sayre, 
in studying the listeners and non-listeners to "America’s Town Meeting of the 
Air" found one considerable group whose attitude toward the program was changed 
when they were induced to listen to one or two broadcasts. This group consisted 
of well-educated, urban residents. It is fairly certain, however, that well- 
educated persons coming from small towns and rural areas would like the program 
in even larger numbers if the coverage were adequate to reach them and if they 
could be induced by publicity to listen to one or two programs. Such research 
data should supply useful information to publicity directors interested in 


( 7 ) Educational radio programs may initiate or stimulate further 
educational activity (discussion, reading, listening to other programs). Since 
many educational programs have as their primary aim such stimulation, studies 
investigating effectiveness of stimulation are badly needed by broadcasters 

who are also educators. Research studies of this type are now in progress under 
the direction of the Evaluation of School Broadcasts group of Ohio State 

(8) The changing of attitudes is a common objective of educational 
broadcasts. Such changing (or ingraining) can only be estimated by careful 
research studies. Work in this area is now being conducted by the Office of 
Radio Research at Columbia University and by the Evaluation of School Broad¬ 
casters Project. 

(9) The influence of educational broadcasts on the thinking of those 
who listen is probably the most important to all educational aims, and at the 
same time is the most difficult to measure. Work on this subject is being 
carried on in connection with a few educational series by the Evaluation of 
School Broadcasts group at Ohio State University. If it can be shown that first- 
rate educational programs do have significant effects on the thinking of those 
who listen to them seriously, the educational broadcaster will have fully 
justified his work. If such research can show what types of programs and what 

* - Coutant, F R, "Determining the Appeal of Special Features of a Radio 
Program," Journal of Applied Psychology . Yol. XXIII, No. 1, February, 1939. 

** - As in Miss Marjorie Fleiss’ study, "University of Chicago Round Table, 
1938, on file at Office of Radio Research, at Columbia University. 


parts of the program are most effective in developing the thinking of listeners, 
then "broadcasters can make immediate use of this information in designing 
further series. 

Research of Particular Value to Teachers 

(1) Teachers must know how much listening their pupils do and what 
their pupils listen to if they are to have an adequate picture of the interests 
of those they teach. A breakdown of the amount of listening for children from 
different socio-economic levels will he valuable to many teachers. It might be 
expected that increased listening goes with decreased opportunity for other 
entertainment. There is however a small amount of evidence tending to show 
that the same programs are favorites and that the same amount of listening is 
done by children from upper and from lower income groups. Several studies done 
in different parts of the country have found an average amount of listening of 
2-3 hours per day. Teachers will want to know such facts, especially if con¬ 
firmed for their own students, since they disclose some interests of youngsters 
which can probably be used to motivate school work. 

Another simple but important quantitative aspect of young people’s 
radio preferences is connected with program schedule and program availability. 
There is but little published research that shows to what extent children’s 
listening is conditioned by the fact that there are only a few hours in the day 
when he has control of the dials. Quite different conclusions about children’s 
preferences may be drawn when the actual listening is reported in terms of what 
programs are on the air at the times of day for which each child can choose 
what he wishes. 

(2) The relative preferences of youngsters for different programs 

seem fairly constant. Studies made in Chicago, St Louis and Zanesville show 
that "Gang Busters” and the "Lux Radio Theatre” lead in popularity over a wide 
range of ages and for both sexes. This finding, at present a tentative one, 
will if verified be an important one for teachers . Apparently these programs 
give the children some satisfactions that are not being supplied by home or 
school, although research data are lacking concerning the role of the movies, 
pulp magazines, comic strips, and some games in satisfying the same needs. 

Seven hundred and fifty-four high school students in Newark were asked 

the question, "What are some of the radio programs from which you learn some¬ 
thing?" Thirty-four and two-tenths (34.2) per cent of them gave "Professor Quiz 
30.5 per cent mentioned "Gang Busters"; 17.0 per cent mentioned "Cavalcade of 
America"; 13,8 per cent mentioned "March of Time." Nineteen programs received 
from ten per cent to one per cent of the votes. This finding is equally un¬ 
complimentary to teachers and to broadcasters. Apparently the students feel 
that the accumulation and retention of miscellaneous bits of information is 
educational. Apparently also there is not a large surplus of genuinely edu¬ 
cational programs on the air. All the same, this is where the students are, and 

teachers would do well to listen to "Professor Quiz" and to "Gang Busters" so as 
to know one more thing that their pupils appreciate and think about. 

It will be important for teachers to know how the listening interests 
of their students change with age, if the listening interests of boys and girls 
are different, and if differing occupational, national and social backgrounds 
affect the radio preferences of young people. 


( 3 ) The present conten t preferences of students do not seem to offer 
any very useful information for teachers . Youngsters listen mostly to enter¬ 
tainment programs. Many teachers would like to have them listen to more news, 
more forums and more educational broadcasts. These facts confront the teacher 
with a two-fold problem, namely, to help some students acquire the serious 
attitudes needed for listening to serious programs and to study the entertain¬ 
ment programs in order to get some picture of what the satisfactions are that 
the youngsters certainly get from them. Psychological studies of the motives 
and satisfactions that young people get from their radio listening are now under 
way. The effects of the ’ crime-serials’ on youthful listeners are being studied 
at the Bureau of Research in Education by Radio at the University of Texas. 

These will surely provide valuable information for teachers anxious to under¬ 
stand their students. 

(4) Teachers must know something about the production - preferences of 
their students. It will not do to recommend regular listening to forums to. 
students who are interested in and able to pay attention only to dramatizations; 
nor will the boy who uses the radio to provide fantasy material of the Super¬ 
man type for himself be likely to learn much from serious science school broad¬ 
casts. Research on production-preferences for students of different ages and 
both sexes is needed to supply information on these points to teachers. 

(5) Teachers will need to know something about the analytical 
preferences of their students, that is to say, preferences with respect to pro¬ 
gram elements such as voices, pace, acting, sound effects, etc. It seems 
probable that many of these preferences are widely different for young people 
of different ages, but objective findings that would permit rational choices 
and acceptable recommendations of programs to be made on this basis are not yet 

(6) Mhny teachers are already interested in trying to influence the 
radio tastes of their students. More insistence or recommendation of programs 
that teachers consider good, are alike ineffective, but when teachers learn as 
the result of research of the five types just mentioned what the radio 
preferences of their students actually are, they will be able to recommend some 
programs that the students can like. In this way will students learn that the 
teachers have their interests at heart and that the teachers understand and 
sympathize with them. It is to be hoped, of course, that as educational pro¬ 
grams are made to fit the interests of youngsters, the youngsters will gradually 
change their preferences to include more educational programs. 

(7) Many educational programs are designed to initiate or stimulate 
discussion , reading and other activities . It will be necessary to do a great 
deal of research to find out if those programs are actually effective in these 
respects. Miss Jeanette Sayre's study of "America’s Town Meeting of the Air 
found little evidence of this stimulating effect on individual listeners. It 
is very likely that this program, when used by listening groups and by local 
town meetings, has a much bigger effect. Research on this point is in progress. 
A study done by the Evaluation of School Broadcasts group at Ohio State 
University* with sixth-grade children in the public schools of Cicero, Illinois, 
showed that the radio could be used to initiate and stimulate a good deal of 

* - Reported in Miles, J R, "Radio and Elementary Science Teaching," Jnl. of 
Ap. Psychol. XXIV , 6* Dec. 1940. 


interest in certain science activities. Transcriptions of science school broad¬ 
casts that fitted their school work were played for these children. They were 
then given tests to determine whether or not the programs and their utiliza¬ 
tion in the classrooms had stimulated them to find out more about the subjects 
presented. It was found that the groups hearing these programs did in fact do 
more reading, discussing and information-getting than comparable groups of 
students not hearing the programs. Similar research is urgently needed both on 
the stimulating effect of in-school and out-of-school radio listening. 

(8) Educational radio may be expected to change some of the attitudes 
of those who listen regularly. Research is urgently needed to determine what 
types of attitudes are most easily changed and what groups of adults and young 
people are most susceptible to this influence. The Evaluation of School 
Broadcasts group is working on this problem with attitude tests and opinion 
scales given to comparable groups of school children before and after radio 
series. The Office of Radio Research at Columbia University, working with 
listener panels and repeated interviews, will shortly provide some information 
on these points. Preliminary studies already completed by the latter group 
imply that persons of neutral attitude shift more often toward one side or the 
other than do persons who state beforehand that they are certain of their 

(9) Teachers concerned with developing the ability of their pupils 
to think will be quick to see the value of research designed to test the effect 
of educational radio on thinking. The Evaluation of School Broadcasts group 
has some work in progress in this area. For example, they are testing the 
relative ability of high school listeners and non-listeners to "America’s Town 
Meeting of the Air" to give good reasons for their opinions. If significant 
differences are found between the listening and non-listening groups, a strong 
case will be made for the value of this program to high school students, and 
teachers will know that students can be helped in their thinking by programs of 
this type. 

Research of Particular Value to Civic and Administrative Groups 

(l) Many civic groups, particularly Parent-Teacher Associations, are 
concerned about the large amount of time that youngsters spend listening to 
"trashy" radio programs. Judgments of the time spent in this way are made all 
too often on the experience of a few individual parents. It is a subject for 
objective research to determine the actual listening habits of youngsters all 
over the country. Furthermore, until more definite results have been obtained 
from research on effects , of the types discussed below, it will be premature to 
stigmatize programs as trashy. Studies reported on at the Eleventh Annual 
Institute for Education by Radio at Ohio State University, May 19^-0 (especially 
those by Ethel Shanas and by John P McKay) show that it is not difficult to 
get reliable information, at least for a single community, concerning favorite 
programs and total time spent. Such information should be a sine qua non for 
Parent-Teachers Associations and other civic groups who wish to be influential 
in determining the radio diet and habits of children. 

Other civic groups engaged in safety, health, consumer education, or 
other campaigns, will need to know when they can reach the particular audience 
they have in mind. Research will be required to determine the best times to 
reach women, adolescents, children, working-men, or professional people. 


Administrative groups such as state supervisory hoards and the Federal 
Communications Commission will want to know the audience size and distribution 
for educational programs. Such evidence is clearly one indication of the extent 
to which a station is operating in "the public interest, convenience and 

(2) Civic groups will want also objective information concerning the 
relative importance of radio in children’s lives. Do children listen mainly 
when they have nothing else to do, or will they forego other amusements for the 
sake of a radio program? Will they come in off the street, will they leave a 
well organized playground so as to be sure not to miss a particular program? 

Will they neglect their studies for the sake of an interesting broadcast? Does 
the radio have as great drawing power for those who are scholastically apt as it 
has for those who find school work difficult? 

It has been found, almost by accident, that many adults listen to 
educational programs that were produced primarily for children. How large a 
group of adults this is, what social and economic levels they come from, what 
subjects these adults find most interesting, what activities these adults forego 
to listen to these programs, are all unknown, but can be found out by suitable 
listener research. This information will be usable by civic agencies interested 
in general education, in particular causes, in particular groups of listeners, 
or in producing their own programs. 

Information on the relative preferences of listeners for educational 
and other programs Is of great importance to administrative groups even if the 
total amount of listening to educational programs at present is small, (The 
actual volume of listening In one community is being studied at Ohio State 
University.) The demonstration of a trend showing that this volume of listening 
Is increasing and that more persons are coming to prefer educational programs, 
would provide objective evidence of the public importance of educational broad¬ 
casts . 

(3) Civic groups interested in young people will need to know how 
their listening time is divided as between news, entertainment, quiz programs, 
educational programs, and so on. It may be that they are only objecting to 10 
percent of children’s listening, or that only 10 per cent of the children spend 
most of their time listening to programs judged to be objectionable. It will be 
Important to know what children listen most to these programs, and what children 
least; then the interested groups will know where to focus their energies. 

Civic groups interested in adult education need to know how the 
listening time of the particular groups they are most interested in is allocated. 
For example, there is a considerable body of evidence showing that individuals 
of lower education prefer to get their news information from the radio, and that 
persons of more formal education prefer on the whole the newspaper and news¬ 
magazine as a source of news. This finding is of importance to any civic group 
sponsoring or encouraging news programs. Similar divisions of audience 
preferences for the other types of programs may be expected, and these group 
preferences must be known, if the organization interested in radio-education Is 
to reach the groups in the audience that it wants to reach. 

(4) Administrative groups (such as the Federal Radio Education Com¬ 
mittee) act as experts functioning for the radio audience in influencing the 


radio offering of broadcasters in constructive ways. They can use the findings 
of research on content-preferences in several ways. If it is found that the 
adult audience shows consistent preferences for, say, news commentaries and 
humorous variety programs, this fact should affect the administrative group's 
sponsoring and publicizing of programs. Such a finding surely does not justify 
the development of programs featuring academic discussions of the great Greek 
philosophies or of astronomy. 

(5) The preferences of young people as between different types of 
radio production must be studied extensively if civic groups are to make 
responsible recommendations concerning programs that children can like. It may 
be that the preferences of many young people for programs judged objectionable 
is not due to their content but to the interesting way they are produced. Re¬ 
search can decide this question: recommendations by civic groups made in the 
absence of this research are merely the opinions of pressure groups, 

(6) Civic groups concerned with the listening habits of children 
will want to know if listening to one program influences the youngsters to 
-listen to others of the same type . or if they become quickly satiated and turn 
to other types. Such "effect studies on preferences" are not now available, but 
the schedule of broadcasting for children can probably be improved by studying 
information on this point. 

We rarely know in advance if repetition serves to get something into 
the youngster’s system or whether it serves to get something out of his system. 
Some will say he is developing the habit of listening to programs of a given 
type, others will say he is getting rid of some kind of frustration in a harm¬ 
less way. Many of the programs widely listened to by youngsters depict killings 
and tortures, many describe as a hero someone who has powers not possessed by 
anyone else, some consistently present members of other races as inhuman cri¬ 
minals and agents of the police as heroes. It may be, as some think, that these 
programs debauch young people into permanently vicious attitudes and habits of 
thought. On the other hand, it may be that some such period of permissible 
fantasy is needed by many youngsters and their other, more constructive efforts 
Would be blocked if these destructive impulses were not given some free play. 
Research can supply information on these points, and civic groups can use this 
information to help decide their policy with respect to these programs. 

( 7 ) Civic groups are concerned with the possibility that destructive 
trains of thought and action may be stimulated in youngsters by some of the 
radio programs they listen to. A few studies have implied that children in 
juvenile court frequently admit the influence of gangster radio productions on 
their actions. Much more research is needed before it can be taken as proven, 
however, that these youngsters would not have been found delinquent had no such 
programs been on the air. Miss Ethel Ghanas found that delinquent and non¬ 
deliquent boys living in so-called delinquency areas have about the same types 

of radio preferences, crime and mystery programs being the major interest of both 
groups. These programs are noticeably less popular with children coming from 
middleclass areas. It may well be, however, that such programs provide a 
valuable substitute for other destructive activity, and civic groups should not 
recommend, without further research, that these programs have predominantly 
pernicious influence. 


(8) Those civic groups that are concerned with the influence of radio 
programs on the attitudes of young people will require a large volume of ob¬ 
jective data before they can be sure that their recommendations are desirable 
and feasible. It should be clear that testimony of teachers and parents, even 
though large in volume and wide in spread, is not a substitute for research 
data. Information is urgently needed telling in detail which opinions and which 
attitudes are most influenced for young people of different ages, of different 
economic status, in different parts of the country, in the cities and on farms. 

Civic groups interested in the effect of the radio on the attitudes 
of adults include groups interested in political propaganda and in adult edu¬ 
cation. It is evident that the publicity sections of the major political parties 
take it for granted that opinions can be influenced by radio, or at least that 
the radio can be used effectively to maintain attitudes already professed. How¬ 
ever, the first thorough study of the place of radio and other media in 
influencing voters was made during the 19^0 Roosevelt-Willkie campaign.* The 
directors of adult education projects and workers’ schools, and trades union 
directors have some information on these points but more data will mean less 
energy wasted on ineffective programs. 

(9) Little information is available concerning constructive effects 
of radio listening on thinking . The unpublished reports of the Evaluation of 
ochool Broadcasts group show that any improvement in critical thinking as a 
result of listening to radio programs designed for that purpose must be very 
small, if indeed it exists at all. However, this conclusion by no means settles 
the question: Can the radio serve in adult education? The effectiveness of 
language courses over the air is now being studied. There can be little doubt 
that such radio courses as WLXAL’s Modern Radio Course taught many of its 
listeners a great deal. However, the listening group is highly selected and the 
subject well adapted to radio teaching. One could not venture a general con¬ 
clusion on the basis of these data concerning the effectiveness of radio in 
teaching people to think. ■ It is highly probable that radio will become a unique 
teaching tool for certain groups, for example - for the isolated families in the 
Kentucky Mountains using the listening centers established by Station WKBY. 

The writers believe that the foregoing classification should prove 
useful for the various potential users of research. In order to make this 
classification of practical value it will be necessary to make a fairly exhaus¬ 
tive study of the research done so far, classified along the lines outlined by 
Chart I on page 3, 

Showing the preferences for and effects of radio classified by sub¬ 
groups of the audience should be a fundamental consideration in analyzing the 
results of such research. Such "stratification" by education, by section of 
country, by income group, by age, by sex, by size-of-community, etc., always 
helps the users of research. It is of especial importance to those interested 
in educational broadcasting because they rarely are interested in the entire 
radio audience but rather must direct each program toward a certain group. 

* - A publication covering this study by Columbia University*s Office of Radio 
Research will be published by Chicago University Press early in 19^1. 


It is to be hoped that some agency will accept the responsibility for 
analyzing, grouping and publicizing the research now being done in the field of 
educational radio. In the absence of this work, most of the studies completed 
and in progress will, we think, be overslow in producing constructive effects 
on programs and in benefiting the radio audience. 


Scanned from the National Association of Educational Broadcasters Records 
at the Wisconsin Historical Society as part of 
"Unlocking the Airwaves: Revitalizing an Early Public and Educational Radio Collection." 

'oiTu> c KTwe 

A collaboration among the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, 
University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Communication Arts, 
and Wisconsin Historical Society. 

Supported by a Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant from 
the National Endowment for the Humanities 











views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication/collection do not necessarily reflect those of the 

National Endowment for the Humanities.