An examination of the visual, material, and spatial presence of radio as it reshaped Canadian society in the second quarter of the twentieth century. As radio entered homes and became an increasingly important component of society, it affected not only the soundscape of everyday life but had architectural consequences as well. From the design of radio cabinets, which literally framed and gave representational quality to the new electronic medium, to advertisements aimed at selling equipment to enhance and afford radio listening lifestyles, radio was experienced strongly in visual and spatial terms. These original essays examine aspects of radio culture found in newspapers, magazines, in homes, and in the broader built environment, arguing that this seemingly supplementary or simply overlooked material was in fact crucial to formation of radio culture. The authors posit that radio, as a social instrument, facilitated the creation of a new kind of public space. And the imaginative potential in visual culture and in design helped shape the contours of this social space, which became deeply embedded within society by the time television altered the visual-acoustic landscape again in the 1950s. By looking at the material culture of radio in the 1930s and 1940s, this publication offers a new way to think about a medium closely associated with twentieth-century modernity.
Anne MacLennan is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at York University, Toronto. She is the author of 'Resistance to Regulation: Early Canadian Broadcaster and Listeners', in Islands of Resistance: Pirate Radio in Canada (2010), and 'Women, Radio and the Depression: A “Captive” Audience from Household Hints to Story Time and Serials' in Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Michael Windover is Assistant Professor of Art History, teaching in the History and Theory of Architecture Program in the School for Studies in Art and Culture at Carleton University, Ottawa. He is the author of Art Deco: A Mode of Mobility (2012).