Radio, Television, and Music
In this course, students will explore the development of radio and television in the United States. The first half of the course will provide a technological, legal, and commercial framework for understanding radio and television’s origins. Particular emphasis will be given to the formation of networks, the creation of the Federal Communications Commission, and the fraught relationship between major broadcast corporations and musicians’ unions (e.g. American Federation of Musicians) and performance rights organizations (e.g. ASCAP and BMI). The second half of the course will focus specifically on the role of music in shaping our experience of radio and television. Through a series of case studies, students will explore the use of music in a variety of contexts: in sitcoms, dramas and crime procedurals; in educational programs and concert broadcasts; on MTV, American Bandstand, and Soul Train; and in cartoons such as South Park. Students will finish the course with a deeper understanding of how radio and television mirror social, political, and musical currents in the popular culture.