RADIO AND TELEVISION
showing of Philco television to the press.
did not always appeal to the masses. Introduced during the depression,
radio use was rapidly expanding among the lower classes, with
the more affluent and educated people believing that radio was
a toy for the poor. This way of thinking created problems for
radio retailers who were forced to sell their radios at lower
prices in order to sell them at all.
M. Skinner, president of Philco Radio, hired Bernays to devise
a plan which would increase radio sales and expand the audience.
Appealing to a more affluent audience would allow the company
to raise their prices and increase their profits.
the toy of the unwashed, became the musical instrument of
first project was the launch of a new high-fidelity radio. He
believed that Philco would first have to create a need for this
product. Through an informal survey of music lovers, Bernays found
the biggest problem with radios was that they were not achieving
faithful tone reproduction. So he staged an event which would
illustrate the quality of the high-fidelity radio. Philco rented
the Grand Ballroom at the Warldorf Astoria hotel, and called upon
the Metropolitan Opera star Lucrezia Bori to sing. The press was
invited to the event at which Bori's voice was filtered through
the new product. The next day a newspaper reported that radio
reception was as good as the human voice.
next step for Bernays was to develop a plan that would create
a market for higher-priced radios. By raising the level of broadcasting,
he believed, Philco would appeal to a more educated and affluent
audience, and in turn be able to raise the cost of their radios.
He began a national drive to raise the level of radio broadcasting
by developing the Radio Institute of the Audible Arts (RIAA),
sponsored by Philco. The appeal for better broadcasting, including
a campaign which stressed radio's importance and which demanded
better music, broadcasts and educational programming, resulted
in an increased enthusiasm for the radio. Radios were being used
for educational purposes and in libraries, and music clubs were
being established across the country. Philco began to profit by
selling an enhanced, higher priced radio. Said Bernays, "RIAA
was recognized throughout the country as a constructive force
for radio." The RIAA did so well that both Bernays and Skinner
felt they would no longer have to promote it, their new organization
would be able to stand on its own.
was still a segment of the upper class that was not buying radios.
Bernays soon developed an exhibit, a gala black-tie event at the
new gallery in Rockefeller Plaza, to encourage this segment to
make radios part of their homes. Radio music rooms rooms
which were built around radios in period cabinets were
designed by the top designing houses of the time. "Radio,
a toy of the unwashed, became the musical instrument of the affluent,"
1936, Bernays began work on creating public policy which would
address freedom of speech in regards to radio broadcasting. His
success with this issue was later followed by a declaration of
national policy standards for the very new medium of television.
introduce television to the press, Bernays had Philco host a demonstration
at their Philadelphia factory. Reporters seemed to sense just
how important and expansive this new technology was going to be,
and in turn communicated these observations to their readers.
One reporter even predicted that television would soon forever
change the nations entertainment habits. The event helped to establish
Philco as leaders in this new and developing medium.