Schools of the Air

A History of Instructional Programs on Radio in the United States

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About the Book

Born in the 1920s during the emergence of radio, schools of the air broadcast an impressive array of instructional programs for the classroom. These broadcast schools operated at the national, state and local levels; issued teacher manuals and learning materials; and offered enormous educational resources to students in both rural and urban areas. This work gives the history of 14 schools of the air, and fills an important gap in scholarship about American education and broadcast media. The book also assesses the successes and failures of the school of the air movement, and examines reasons for its demise.

About the Author(s)

Tech writer William Bianchi lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Bibliographic Details

William Bianchi
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 336
Bibliographic Info: 27 photos, tables, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3058-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

List of Tables      ix
Abbreviations Used      xi
Preface      1
Introduction      5

SECTION I: RADIO BECOMES AN EDUCATIONAL MEDIUM      7
Early Years: Idealism and Commerce      8
Education and Regulation      13
Three Experiments      17
A National School of the Air?      21
Schools of the Air Emerge      27
Summary      34

SECTION II: NETWORK SCHOOLS OF THE AIR      35
NBC’s Music Appreciation Hour      35
CBS and the American School of the Air      52
Summary: Network Schools of the Air      75

SECTION III: STATE-BASED SCHOOLS OF THE AIR      79
Ohio School of the Air      80
Wisconsin School of the Air      102
Minnesota School of the Air      143
Texas School of the Air      161
New York: The Empire State FM School of the Air      171
Oregon School of the Air      184
The Prairie Farmer: WLS’s School Time      195
Summary: State-Based Schools of the Air      197

SECTION IV: LOCAL SCHOOLS OF THE AIR      206
Cleveland School of the Air      207
Chicago Public School of the Air      221
Rochester School of the Air      234
Portland, KBPS      241
WNYE School of the Air      262
Detroit      270
Limited Data Local Schools of the Air      275
Alameda City School of the Air      275
Akron, Ohio      280
Summary: Local Schools of the Air      284

SECTION V: OPPORTUNITY LOST?      291
Summary of Findings and Conclusions      296
Reasons for Demise      301
Successes      303
Why Did Not More Teachers Use Schools of the Air?      304
The Wisconsin Exception      306
Other Measures of Success      307
Questions and Lessons Learned      309

References      313
Index      321

Book Reviews & Awards

“An important and useful study that captures a period in radio’s history for which a modern history had been lacking”—Communication Booknotes Quarterly.