UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Popular American radio dramas Redfern, Joanna Maureen


This thesis concerns itself with the popular radio dramas of America in the early days of radio (1920s - 1950s). Popular radio dramas were heard during the peak hours of American radio. They appealed to the largest audience with their social and moral relevance and were sponsored by a variety of companies and products. The distinction is made between these radio dramas and those that were considered "serious". As well, a brief discussion occurs as to their relationship with the radio dramas of the BBC. The questions analyzed within this thesis concern the text of American radio dramas. Unlike those of the BBC, American radio dramas have not been examined as readable texts for two reasons - their lack of availability and their low position in the hierarchy of literature. What this thesis seeks to do is present American radio dramas as readable texts that elicit a similar, though not identical, experience to listening. To accomplish this, two evaluative criteria are employed - cultural indicators and radio theory. The first explores the impact of radio on the culture of the time, considering questions of liveness, escapism and imagination. The second addresses the ways in which radio functions and if it is indeed a blind medium. Radio theorists examine the codes of radio - words, music, silence and noise. Both cultural research and radio theory are applied to the sound recording and text of the American radio drama to be examined, the Suspense mystery play "The House in Cypress Canyon" originally presented in 1946. An analysis ensues that strives to answer the question, "is reading the same as listening?"

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