During the golden age of radio in the 1930s and 1940s, programs such as Kraft Music Hall, Maxwell House Show Boat, and Town Hall Tonight had a major impact on our history and cultural evolution. What is less recognized is the role advertisers had in making these shows a success. In her book A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS: Admen, Advertising, and the Golden Age of Radio (Fordham University Press ) author Cynthia B. Meyers examines the role advertisers played in creating, producing, writing and/or managing many nationally broadcast radio shows. Starting with the pre-broadcasting advertising industry through the rise of commercial broadcasting up until the late 1940s, Meyers argues that despite their invisibility, advertising agencies were far more important than many would think. By repositioning the advertising industry as a central agent in the development of broadcasting, Meyers challenges conventional views about the role of advertising in culture, the integration of media industries, and the role of commercialism in broadcasting history.
Based largely on archival materials, A Word from Our Sponsor mines agency records from the J. Walter Thompson papers at Duke University, which include staff meeting transcriptions, memos, and account histories; agency records of BBDO, Benton & Bowles, Young & Rubicam, and N. W. Ayer; contemporaneous trade publications; and the voluminous correspondence between NBC and agency executives in the NBC Records at the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Reviews of A Word from Our Sponsor:
Michael Stamm, American Historical Review, vol. 120, no. 1 (February 2015): 279-80.
Cheryl Williams, Advertising & Society, vol. 16, no. 1 (2015).
“Book Notes.” European Journal of Communication, vol. 29, no. 4 (August 2014): 524.