A Word from Our Sponsor

Admen, Advertising, and the Golden Age of Radio

Broadcast Historian Award, 2016, Library of American Broadcasting Foundation
For images and media relating to A Word from Our Sponsor, see the book's web pages on Early Radio, the Hard Sell, the Soft Sell, Integrating Entertainment and Advertising, Corporate Image, Hollywood on Radio, World War II, Radio's Peak and Sudden Decline
"Cynthia B. Meyers’s fascinating and important book about the previously understudied role of advertising agencies in developing both the business model and programming content for radio adds new analytical depth and breadth to this history. Advertising agencies like Young & Rubicam were, she claims, “arguably the most important sites of radio entertainment production in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s” (p. 2), the period of radio’s “golden age.” This engaging and well-researched work succeeds admirably in demonstrating that assertion. " Michael Stamm, American Historical Review
"Social media was not the first to pose new challenges for advertisers, publishers, and audiences. In A Word from Our Sponsor, Cynthia Meyers traces the emergence of broadcast advertising back to its roots in the golden age of radio beginning in the 1920s and describes the key role of advertising agencies in developing this format for advertisers who were struggling to adapt to the new medium of radio. " --Cheryl Williams, Advertising & Society Review
"[S]upposedly new and innovative techniques, such as product placement and sponsored programs built around a specific product, hearken back to older advertising methods like those described in Cynthia Meyers’ fascinating new book, A Word From Our Sponsor: Admen, Advertising, and the Golden Age of Radio. Meyers draws on extensive archival research to fill a hole in recent scholarship, outlining the intimate and complicated relationships between broadcasters and commercial interests from the point of view of the admen who were responsible for much of the program that constitutes radio’s golden age. Throughout, Meyers demonstrates that commercialism was not 'an outside force silencing the voice of the people but...a set of beliefs, practices, and economic incentives that not only created dominant institutions but also helped build authentic popular cultural forms.'" Catherine Martin, Confluence
"There was a major distinction between ‘hard sell’ and ‘soft sell’ agencies; Meyers devotes two individual chapters to the different strategies each of them adopted. In one of these, she offers an interesting case study of Young & Rubicam, the most prominent of the soft sell agencies, with direct involvement in radio comedy shows featuring the likes of Burns & Allen, Jack Benny and Eddie Cantor. Other case studies follow, after which Meyers turns first to the incursions of Madison Avenue into Hollywood, along with the ensuing tensions they caused, and second to the World War II period and the propaganda contribution of the commercial radio industry to the war economy. This is a welcome book, not least because it quite alters the picture we have of the development of popular culture in North America during the second quarter of the last century. Anyone who is interested in the development of mass entertainment would do well to read it. " European Journal of Communication
"I really thought I understood both radio advertising and programming from the inception of the media. In fact, this book held a revelation for me on nearly every page! I just didn't realize how wild and wooly and practically immoral early radio advertising was nor the about the movements that developed to counter this new form of advertising. And while I actually own many old radio soap recordings I again was in the dark about the origins of this massive new genre or the extent to which it dominated radio programming for decades. "A Word from Our Sponsor" is detailed, well-written and entirely engaging." Simeon Smith, Amazon review

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