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The 1924 Radio Election

By Don Moore

A slightly edited version of this article was originally published in the July, 1992 issue of Monitoring Times magazine.


In the 1800s, presidential elections were simple. Sometime during the summer, party hacks quietly gathered together and nominated a candidate. The campaign began in earnest on Labor Day. Local committees put up posters and passed out flyers. The party faithful paraded around town singing hastily composed ballads praising their standard-bearer or demeaning the opposing leader. The only way the people could see the candidates was in person, so special trains would travel the countryside stopping in every little hamlet long enough for a short speech. In short, elections were colorful, personal, and fun. Then along came this guy named Marconi, and politics hasn't been the same since.

First Broadcasts

When radio first started, no one thought about politics. Because radio was viewed as just another novelty, getting politics on the air was a slow process. The first known incursion of politics into radio was during the 1906 mid-term elections. A few days before the election, the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Line contracted the Thomas E. Clark Wireless Telegraph and Telephone Company of Detroit to send the election returns to its ships in the Great Lakes. The passengers may have been impressed, but it didn't help Clark Wireless, which went bankrupt a few years later.

If politics and radio mixed in the next ten years, history doesn't record it. But inventor Lee DeForest was always willing to try something new. In 1916, he was running his own amateur "radio telephone" show of phonograph music and chats from his laboratory in Highbridge, NY. In November he arranged for a special line to be run to his home from the offices of "The New York American" to supply him with election returns, which he then broadcast over the air to his amateur friends up to 200 miles away. In a foreshadowing of the famous Dewey "victory" over Truman in 1948, as 11:00 p.m. approached, DeForest decided it was time for bed and, looking over the returns, duly confirmed that Charles Evan Hughes had defeated Woodrow Wilson!

Most Americans have learned about the next step of the process in school; how the nation's first radio station, KDKA started up just in time to broadcast the election returns of the 1920 election. It almost didn't happen, though. It was less than two months earlier that Westinghouse vice president Harry P. Davis conceived of operating a radio station solely to broadcast to the general public. Westinghouse could get plenty of free publicity by launching the new station with a bang, and the upcoming presidential election was the time to do it. Company engineer Frank Conrad, amateur 8XK, was given the job.

Technical and legal work proceeded at a frantic pace and the station was ready just hours before the broadcast. KDKA came on the air at 8:00 pm on election night, November 2. Election returns were phoned in to the studio from the Pittsburgh Post as they came off the wire services, and live banjo music filled the empty spaces. Estimates are that only about 2,000 heard the broadcast but they included some very influential people gathered in the homes of Westinghouse officials and at the Edgewood country club outside Pittsburgh. Many people telephoned in to ask the station give more election news and play less music.

Most Americans don't know that KDKA wasn't the only station broadcasting election returns that night. Earlier that day, the Detroit News had published a notice that the newspaper's amateur station 8MK (later WWJ) would broadcast returns. An office boy, Elton Plant, ran up and down the stairs from the paper's editorial office, where the wire service results came in, to the radio station on the roof. He handed the news to whomever was at the microphone or, if no one was nearby, read it himself. As in Pittsburgh, listeners were few. In fact, the paper also, as in years previous, announced the results to the public via a megaphone from their front steps. The megaphone probably reached more listeners than the station. But, that was soon to change.


KDKA launched a revolution in communications and soon dozens of broadcasting stations were licensed around the country. Thousands and then millions of Americans purchased receiving sets. KDKA continued to break political ground. In 1921, candidates for municipal elections were given the opportunity to speak on the station. This was followed a year later when Pennsylvania elected a governor and a senator. Stations in other cities also saw broadcasting speeches by local politicians at election time as a civic responsibility, President Harding began making occasional radio speeches. A November 5, 1921, speech by Harding inaugurated a new high-power RCA transmitter and was heard on every continent. After Harding's sudden death in 1923, President Calvin Coolidge continued to speak on the radio. Not all politicians were receptive, however. When a microphone was placed in front of former Secretary of State Elihu Root, he exclaimed "Take that away. I can talk to a Democrat, but I cannot speak into a dead thing." (Clark)

As the 1924 presidential elections approached, everyone began to think of radio. Politicians talked so much about using it that stations were afraid they would be deluged with requests for speech time. Political committees were set up to manage requests for air time and see that the best speakers were given preference. In March, Owen Young, chairman of the Board of Directors for General Electric and RCA proclaimed "No citizen of this great country need say that he has not heard the pronouncements of the presidential candidates of the two great parties" (Barnard). New Republic magazine predicted that the upcoming campaign would be mainly fought by radio. Nation agreed, editorializing that 1924 would be looked back on as "the radio year", but thought that by 1928 the broadcasting fad would be over. William McAdoo, the most likely Democratic candidate, went as far as to apply for a license to set up a station at his home in Los Angeles. His plans were to do most of his campaigning by radio from his living room!

Convention Time

The three-day Republican convention in Cleveland started the campaign off on June 10. To broadcast the convention, AT&T used special wires to put together a loose network of sixteen stations in twelve cities, headed by its WEAF in New York and WCAP in Washington. Never before had such a linkup been attempted, and it was a major test of both engineering and programming skill.

With colorful ace announcer Graham McNamee presiding, AT&T offered an attractive but expensive package to radio stations around the country. The biggest expense was rental of AT&T lines, which the receiving stations had to pay for. Although AT&T offered line rental at cost as a public service, it was still too expensive for many stations, especially more distant ones. Stations in Los Angeles and San Francisco both said no, and Kansas City was the farthest west to receive line service. However, Westinghouse's KFKX in Hastings, Nebraska picked up the broadcasts and relayed them via shortwave to the West Coast, for rebroadcast by KGO in Oakland.

No one was quite sure of exactly how much programming the stations would receive from the conventions. Station schedules had to be flexible, so most booked soloists and readings so they could easily switch back and forth to Cleveland. Hopes, however, were high for the broadcast, as in this AT&T publicity statement . . .

This will be the first occasion that a program will be supplied continuously to twelve cities, enabling stations at these points to broadcast such features of the Convention as they desire to make available to their respective radio audiences . . . An announcer will be in constant attendance with concise and vivid descriptions of the events taking place in the Convention Hall and explanations of the significance of what is going on. The announcer will introduce the various speakers so that the entire matter will be an intersting broadcasting program" (Archer).
The convention took place in a 16,000 seat auditorium with a stage in the center, a pipe organ to the right, and a band to the left. WEAF erected a glass booth on the stage with a table, chair, paper, telephone, headphones & signal light board. Two microphones were placed in the booth (one a spare), and one each by the organ, band and speaker. Politicians, however, were not used to speaking into a stationary radio mic; they normally paced back and forth across the stage. To keep the speakers from wandering, a railing was erected around the microphone. McNamee controlled his own mic; the others were switched in from a control room behind the platform. An assistant was always stationed near the speaker's spot to pass along to McNamee observations that he couldn't see. Others throughout the hall also telephoned in reports.

AT&T & WEAF weren't alone in broadcasting the convention. Rival New York City station WJZ sent their star announcer, Major J. Andrew White. He was also carried on WGY of Schnectady. At the time, AT&T felt it had exclusive domain over broadcasting based on certain patents it owned, and AT&T had let it be known that no one else should assist in network broadcasting not involving AT&T lines. AT&T, of course, wasn't about to rent lines to WJZ in competition with their WEAF network. WJZ and WGY arranged a special line through Western Union, without telling Western Union its true use.

There was no contest at the convention - it was Coolidge all the way, which made coverage easy and allowed the broadcasters to focus on perfecting their work. Interest in an otherwise boring convention was maintained by supporters of Progressive Senator Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin, who fought to put liberal planks into the party platform. Their failure led to LaFollette launching an independent candidacy shortly afterwards. Overall, though, the process was so easy that Will Rogers remarked that the convention could have been done by postcard.

Still, convention broadcasting became a national drama as some stations not carrying the convention shut down to avoid interfering with nearby stations broadcasting it. Around the country schools closed so that students could listen, radio demonstration rooms in department stores were packed with people, and sales of radios sets hit record levels. For the first time, the American people were able to look in on a national political convention. "Millions of radio listeners sat before their loudspeakers or listened with earphones - thrilled or enraged depending upon their political faith, by what they heard" (Archer).

The Democrats Meet

A few days later, on June 24, the 1446 delegates of the Democratic convention met in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Not only was this larger than the Republican convention, it promised to be a real battle as there was no clear front runner. In fact, the convention was to drag out to be the longest in the nation's history. Again, AT&T's WEAF and Graham McNamee were there, this time with 17 other stations in their network, as were WJZ/WGY and Major White, for a total of twenty stations. The broadcasters set up their microphones and glass booths on the stage as they had for the Republican convention. The Democrats knew their party was divided and ready for a fight. Concerned with how the nation would view the party, the Democratic National Committe kept a censor on stage by the radio microphones. An agreement with the stations allowed the censor to cut the microphone at any time (although it was not done).

The main part of the convention, starting with Senator Pat Harrison's keynote speech, was postponed to 7:30pm because of better nighttime radio reception. More speeches followed, but the convention's most memorable radio speech was given by a young New Yorker, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who nominated New York Governor Al Smith. Roosevelt was praised for having a great radio voice. The worst performance was given by 64-year-old William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic candidate in 1896, 1900, and 1908. A renowned orator of the old tradition, Bryan was used to wandering around the stage. He wouldn't stay inside the railings by the microphone and lost his radio audience for most of his speech.

Finally, after some lengthy platform fights, the first ballot was taken. As expected, California's William McAdoo came in first with 431 1/2 votes, followed by New York's Al Smith with 241 votes. Various others were far behind, including little known John Davis with 31 votes. No one was close to winning and there was little chance for a compromise. Of the two main candidates, McAdoo was a Protestant and a strong supporter of Prohibition while Smith was Catholic and favored an end to Prohibition. Other delegates controlled smaller regional delegations and were not willing to turn over their votes without getting something in return. Many supported neither McAdoo nor Smith.

Days passed and ballot after ballot was taken. With each ballot the state of Alabama was called on to vote first. This drew national attention back to the political drama in New York as Alabama's spokesman, ex-governor Jim Brandon, drawled out "Alabama casts 24 votes for Underwood" (an Alabaman senator) each time. By the fifteenth ballot the spectators in the galleries picked up the cry and repeated it along with the governor. Soon, the delegates joined and each ballot began with the convention hall chanting in unison "Alabama casts 24 votes for Underwood." Across the country, millions of people gathered around radios joined in too. As it was repeated over and over, "Alabama casts 24 votes for Underwood" became a national joke and a symbol of a political party too divided to choose a candidate.

The balloting did come to an end with an unusual ticket of Wall Street lawyer John Davis and Nebraska Populist Charles Bryan ... on the 103rd ballot after fifteen days. By this time, the Democratic party had made itself look like a vaudeville sideshow. Still, the nation listened attentively to their political leaders. At Sing-Sing prison in upstate New York, loudspeakers were set up allowing the prisoners to listen in as a special treat on July 4. In New York City, one cab driver got extra business by putting a radio and two headsets in his car. In many ways, radio's infancy was clearly evident. No station today would think of airing dead air, yet when a Christian Science Minister asked the delegates to pray silently for a few minutes, the radio stations did just that. When the praying stopped, more than a few listeners who hadn't been paying close attention were up on their roofs trying to adjust their aerials to get the signal back in.

Two national heros did emerge from the convention; Senator Thomas Walsh who did an admirable job of presiding over the unruly convention, and Graham McNamee for colorful descriptions of the convention. McNamee, who later commented that the 1924 Democratic convention was one of his most vivid experiences, lost 8 pounds while confined to the little glass booth. WJZ/WGY's Major White also did an excellent job of announcing a difficult convention, but was heard by far fewer people that McNamee.

When the conventions finished, station managers saw their public service obligation over too. If they were going to continue carrying political speeches, someone had to pay for the time - logically the political parties. The parties agreed, setting up 1924 as a true "radio election". This was easy when a speech was carried over one local station, however, because no set networks existed at the time, complex negotiations had to be completed before broadcasts linking multiple stations. Landline rental to link stations also added to the cost. An hour on one station might cost $500, but an hour over six or seven stations could easily cost $5000 or more.

A Slow Start

During the Democratic Convention, the campaign gained a Third Party candidate, as Progressive Robert LaFollette announced his independent candidacy. Then the campaign quieted down. As was the custom of the day, it took six weeks before any of the candidates made official acceptance speeches. Visiting his hometown of Clarksburg, WVA, John Davis was the first to make his acceptance speech on August 11,with a speech broadcast on 13 stations, mainly in the south. A violent downpour severly hampered the quality of the outdoor broadcast, although Davis continued to give his speech in the rain. A few days later, on August 14, Coolidge's acceptance speech from Washington aired on 15 stations as far west as Kansas City and was heard by an estimated 25 million listeners.

In Lincoln, Democratic VP contender Charles Bryan spoke from the University of Nebraska stadium on August 18. KFKX, Hastings, Nebraska; WOAW, Omaha; WMAQ, Chicago; and the local university station carried the speech. Republican VP Charles Dawes spoke the following day from Evanston, Illinois over most of the stations that broadcast the Republican convention. The real campaign wasn't kicked off until Labor Day, when all the candidates spoke on the radio. The most notable Labor Day speech was LaFollette's, which was the first political speech given in a radio studio without a live audience.

John Davis started his campaign with a traditional railroad journey from September 6-17 through western and midwestern cities. Radio, however, was planned for as his car was wired with microphones, loudspeakers, and jacks to make it easy for local stations to plug in and carry his speeches. The center of the campaign was New York City, where the Democrats paid WJZ to set up a studio in a window in downtown Manhattan so that passersby could see their officials speaking over the air. The Democrats even held a contest, awarding a radio as the prize for the best statement as to why Davis should be elected president.

As an independent, LaFollette didn't have the funding of the two major party candidates and worried about the cost of buying radio time. He soon changed his mind as his speeches carried by radio brought in enough extra contributions to more than cover the cost. For example, a speech in Sioux Falls, SD carried on WOAW, Omaha, netted $900. LaFollette's first major appearance, at Madison Square Garden, was carried over WEAF. He lost ten minutes of air time when it took the crowd that long to quiet down after his introduction, but his campaign took in ten times more in contributions than the radio time cost.

In October LaFollette launched a railroad campaign tour of the Midwest. Like Davis, he spoke at radio stations along the way, and actually took along a throat specialist to keep his voice in good order. On October 13, he spoke from Kansas City over a network of Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas stations. Two days later, on October 15, LaFollette was denied use of WHO in Des Moines, causing one of the most controversial incidents of the campaign. LaFollette charged that business monopoly interests were keeping him off the air. WHO, however, pointed out that LaFollette's staff had not arranged for the air time three weeks in advance, as required. The station's Republican owners were able to offer evidence of how they had enforced this rule against members of their own party, and allowed Democrats who had given the required advance notice to speak. LaFollette continued to criticize the radio monopoly, but his criticism failed to hold up after October 29 when he gave a harsh speech about General Electric over GE's WGY in Schnectady. GE didn't interfere and after that LaFollette let the issue drop.

Coolidge, on the other hand, followed the strategy of Democratic loser William McAdoo and stayed at home in Washington, just giving occasional speeches via radio. Even so, Coolidge was on the air more than either Davis or LaFollette. Radio seemed to be a perfect medium for Coolidge, who was generally acknowledged as a good radio speaker, even by Democrats. His shrill Vermont twang, often an irritation when listening to him in person, disappeared over the air. Davis' clear sonorous voice was muffled on the radio.

Shortwave Used

Through mid-1924, shortwave was still seen as an inconsistent novelty even by engineers, and few believed it could ever be used reliably for daytime long-distance broadcasting. Despite that Westinghouse continued to experiment with SW and by October was ready to demonstrate its progress. On October 11, the H.J. Heinz Company of Pittsburgh celebrated its 55th anniversary. Ten thousand employees sat down in 65 banquet halls across the US and Great Britain. President Coolidge was the featured speaker - from Washington D.C. The president's speech was carried by landline to KDKA then broadcast over shortwave. Other Westinghouse stations in Chicago, Hastings, and Springfield, MA relayed it off the air over their transmitters. This was the first time such a broadcast had been attempted, and millions in the Americas and Europe are believed to have heard it.

While the Republicans kept vice-presidential candidate Charles Dawes on the air every night through election day, Coolidge made only two more speeches before the election. The first was as a guest speaker at the United States Chamber of Commerce Convention in Washington D.C. on October 23, 1924. AT&T lined up 22 stations in the greatest connection of stations by landwire to date, with WEAF; WJAR Providence; WEEI, Boston; WCAE, Pittsburg; WGY; WGN, Chicago; KSD, St Louis; WOAW; WCAP; WMAF, South Dartmouth; WGR, Buffalo; WDBH Worcester; WSAI, Cincinati; WOC, Davenport; WDAF, Kansas City; KLZ, Denver; KLX Oakland; KFI and KHJ Los Angeles; KPO San Francisco; KFOA, Seattle and KGW, Portland.

As the campaign began drawing to a close, the Republicans took the radio game very seriously. For the final two weeks before the election, they bought all the time on two stations, WAHG, Richmond Hill, Long Island and WHBF, Providence, RI. With programming originating from Republican offices in Manhattan, Republican politicians spoke morning, noon and night from October 21 to election day. Party committee chairman John Q. Tilson refered to this step as "the last word in effective radio campaigning" (Weeks), but one might wonder how many besides diehard Republicans listened in to speeches with titles like "The Vicissitudes of a Practical Politician" and "The Foundation of the Constitution".

For a grand finale, the Republicans set up three big radio rallies. The first, on October 29, brought together several major speakers on WJZ and six other stations. The following night they put together a "Midnight Theatrical Revue" of political speeches and entertainment with stars including Al Jolson and Elsie Ferguson. Running from 11:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., this was also carried on WJZ and several other stations. Finally, on the Saturday night before the election, WEAF and sixteen other broadcasters carried a huge rally of speeches and music from New York's Metropolitan Opera House.

The Davis campaign wound down on November 1 with big speeches from Carnegie Hall by Davis and New York Governor Al Smith carried by WJZ; WCAE, Pittsburgh; WMC, Memphis; WRC, Washington; WTAS, Elgin, IL; and WHAS, Louisville. Davis's final speech at 9:15 p.m. on election eve, November 3rd, originated from WEAF and was carried by WCAP, WGY, KDKA, KFKX, KSD, WMC, and WGN, and on shortwave from Hastings to the west coast.

Coolidge's final speech was on a record 26 stations, coast-to- coast. It was estimated that his audience was the largest in history to listen to one man speak. To ensure there would be no interruptions on the west coast due to line damage, AT&T stationed several hundred servicemen along their lines through the Rockies. Coolidge's speech was non-partisan; he simply urged citizens to vote, then finished, "To my father, who is listening in my old home in Vermont, and to my other invisible audience, I say 'good night'". Many listeners remembered the personal warmth of his ending.

Americans went to the polls the next day, and the following evening almost every station in the country carried election returns in some form, with an estimated twenty million people tuning in. Many stations received the national results from the wire services and made other arrangements for state and local offices. UPI was hooked up to 32 stations, and many smaller stations listened in to these then rebroadcast the figures. Music and variety programs usually filled in the gaps between reports. WLW in Cincinati interspersed the returns with a comedy program. WEAF headed a 26 station hookup with the "National Radio Exposition Frolic", mixing election returns in a variety program hosted by Eddie Cantor with Will Rogers. WJZ and WGY once again hooked up, this time with WRC, foiling AT&T by surreptiously using the landlines of the Postal Telegraph Company. The results were also heard throughout the nation and overseas via KDKA's shortwave transmitter. It was quickly obvious that Coolidge, as expected, had won in a landslide. Most stations signed off by 1:00 a.m., although a few such as KDKA stayed on as late as 4:00 a.m. The United States' first 'radio election' was over.

The Significance of 1924

When the 1924 campaign began, no one knew what radio would be worth as a weapon in the campaign warchest. For millions to hear the voices of the candidates was unique - it couldn't be duplicated in silent movies or newspapers. Many in both parties questioned how they could know if there was an audience listening and if their message was reaching them. By the end of the campaign, these questions and more were answered. It was clear that radio had improved politics and furthermore politics had improved radio.

The election of 1924 was never really a contest. The country was prosperous and there was little doubt that Coolidge would win. Even though millions of Americans tuned in speeches and other election broadcasting, it is unlikely that radio changed many votes. The medium was still too unrefined for that. Coolidge's warm greeting to his father during his final speech probably won more votes than any political pronouncements by any of the candidates. Gleason Archer wrote that "The effect of the election on radio was more important than the effect of radio on the election results!" Radio was, however, credited with focusing people on the election and bringing out a huge number of voters.

In a sense, radio 'grew up' with the 1924 presidential election. Although some experimenting with networking had begun, at the beginning of 1924, AT&T thought it was technically impossible to interconnect stations coast-to-coast with long distance telephone lines. By the end of the year, it was a common occurence. This, combined with increased revenue from the political broadcasts, encouraged AT&T to continue development of its networking between WEAF and other stations in the Northeast and Midwest, the forerunner of the NBC network. Westinghouse used the election to explore the uses of shortwave, both in the Heinz broadcast and in using its shortwave station KFKX in Hastings, Nebraska to relay programs to the Pacific Coast. Obviously, these advancements would have come in time, but the 1924 campaign gave broadcasting the impetus to try them out sooner. In the short run, money was most important. For their presidential campaigns, the Democratic party spent $40,000 on radio and the Republicans $50,000. This doesn't include LaFollette's independent candidacy nor many state and local races across the country. The amounts may seem tiny today, but the money kept stations afloat in a fledgling industry.

Even if radio didn't change votes, it did change politics and campaigning, especially speechmaking. It quickly became evident that the old style of the ranting word-artist wouldn't work on radio and that a new breed of political orator was being born. As The Saturday Evening Post noted, the old style of "a good personality, a musical voice, a power of dramatic gesture have served to cover up baldness of thought and limping phraseology" (Archer). While politicians might get by with "baldness of thought" with live audiences due to the excitement of the event, their charm didn't work on the radio where the listener was focused only on the speaker's message. Candidates had to speak clearly, intelligently, and sensibly. Furthermore, excited 'fire and brimstone' type speeches were often unintelligible on the radio; a warmer personal style came across much better. Several observers noted that young Franklin Roosevelt, who although not a candidate had made several speeches for the Democrats, had a perfect radio personality. When he spoke, listeners felt as if Roosevelt had dropped in at their parlor for an informal chat.

While before candidates spoke mainly to the party faithful, they now had to tailor their speeches more for the undecided, and even the opposition. The audience for political speeches had changed. Because radio audiences did not feel as if they had to show signs of support for the speaker, the audience became not only bigger, but more heterogeneous. Undecided and opposing voters, who might not be comfortable attending a rally, could easily tune in at home. Sometimes it was even enjoyable to listen to the opposing side, at least in the eyes of The New Republic, "At the radio one can make faces at the speaker, call him bad names, or ... indulge in vehement refutation to one's heart's content, all without discomoding the rest of the audience in the least or feeling the slightest embarrassment" ("Electioneering...").

Politicians now knew that voters simply had to turn on the radio to listen to a speech. While a voter might be too shy to walk out in the middle of a long, boring speech, there was nothing to prevent him from reaching over and turning off the radio. Long speeches wouldn't do, except for special occasions. Strong, brief speeches with the main point up front became the rule.

Finally, with so many listeners focusing so intently on a speaker's message, truthfulness became very important. Fredrick Hicks, a regional director for the Republican National Committee, acknowledged that when candidates thought about how they were addressing hundreds of thousands of listeners, they became "conscious of the importance of delivering messages free from boastful predictions and demogogic utterances . . . radio would skewer the insincere" (Clark). LaFollette agreed that candidates were no longer willing to twists facts which they knew would be quickly received by millions via radio.

Not everyone agreed that radio was a positive force in elections. Some felt that radio did not adequately portray the excitement of a campaign, although for many it was as close as they would ever get. The "El Paso Times" wrote that people were really more interested in the shape of a candidate's ears and how his nose wrinkled when he laughed at his own jokes, which wasn't conveyed by radio. Others agreed that the lack of facial expressions was a drawback for radio broadcasting.

Some looked forward to the future. The New Republic commented

It remains a question how long the political use of radio will be merely as a transmitter of the direct campaign utterances of candidates . . . We may then expect bedtime stories burbling with anecdotes of some candidate's boyhood, tenors expanding on his favorite lullaby, radio orchestras playing his special march directly after the Star Spangled Banner, even the voice of his aged mother now and then quavering out a tribute" (Barnard).
The New York Times thought that future candidates might be chosen as to whether they were "radiogenic . . . or even photogenic." Losing candidate John Davis agreed, "Ultimately a candidate may be chosen for two things - first, that he films well, and second, that he has a good radio voice." Perhaps The New Republic was the most farsighted when it wrote, "Ultimately a form of hokum will be devised that can be counted on to captivate the radio listener" (Electioneering ...).

Radio may not have been so much a participant as a spectator in the 1924 election, but it did become an important political weapon and set the stage for an even greater role in the 1928 election.


Archer, Gleason L. "Conventions, Campaigns, and Kilocycles in 1924: The First Political Broadcasts". Journal of Broadcasting. Spring, 1960: 110-118.

Barnard, Eunice Fuller. "Radio Politics". The New Republic. March 19, 1924: 91-93.

Barnouw, Erik. A Tower in Babel. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966.

Bohn, Thomas W. "Broadcasting National Election Returns: 1916-1948". Journal of Broadcasting. Summer 1968: 267-286.

Chester, Edward A. Radio, Televsion and American Politics. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1969.

Clark, David G. "Radio in Presidential Campaigns: The Early Years (1924-1932)". Journal of Broadcasting. Spring 1962: 229-238.

Electioneering On the Air. The New Republic. September 3, 1924: 8-9.

Politics By Radio. Nation. January 2, 1924: 5.

Ronnie, Art "First Convention by Radio". Journal of Broadcasting. Summer, 1964: 245-6.

Weeks, Lewis E. "The Radio Election of 1924". Journal of Broadcasting Summer, 1964: 233-243.

Wolfe, Joesph G. "Some Reactions to the Advent of Campaigning by Radio". Journal of Broadcasting. Summer, 1969: 305-314.


This article is copyright 1992 by Don Moore.
It may not be printed in any publication without written permission.

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