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17 – What do the Radio Program Schedules Reveal?

Content Analysis versus Accidental Sampling in Early Canadian Radio History

Anne F. MacLennan

Texte intégral

  • 1 Anne MacLennan, “Circumstances Beyond Our Control: Canadian Radio Program Schedule Evolution Durin (...)

1Although content analysis is used extensively in the field of communications, it has been applied only sporadically to broadcasting history. Most of the standard works on Canadian radio history are nationalistic in tone and make reference to the threat of American programming without quantifying its impact for assessment. Extensive content analysis of Canadian radio program schedules during the 1930s in Vancouver, Montreal, and Halifax questions some of the long-held historical misconceptions about Canadian radio. While judgmental samples and the representations of lobbyists to government commissions would be considered suspect and completely unsuitable for a contemporary study, these remain the standard sources for most discussion of Canadian radio in the 1930s. This paper addresses the chronic misuse of these types of sources, due to the lack of readily available statistics for early Canadian radio programming.1

2Hovering between the humanities and social sciences, the discipline of history is frequently perceived as less rigorous within the larger discussions of social science research. While the vast majority of historical work is differentiated from social science due to its narrative and comparative styles, recent work in the field evades this type of classification opting instead for more interpretive and positivistic approaches. The use of grounded theory and interpretative approaches, however, are more consistent with history’s narrative style, relying upon the critical and interpretive powers of individual historians. Alternatively, vast numbers of historians are more closely allied with disciplines that follow a more positivistic approach, favouring representative sampling and discipline-specific methods. The interplay between the field of communications and history and their interdisciplinary natures allows for many methodological possibilities that have yet to be fully explored.

  • 2 Michael Del Balso and Alan D. Lewis, First Steps: A Guide to Social Research, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Ne (...)
  • 3 Although the term “ether” is not technically correct it is historically appropriate, because the e (...)

3Additionally history has long been associated with a reliance on accidental sampling2. In fact the very nature of the field and its area of investigation make it dependent on the remains of society and what previous generations have deemed fit to preserve or leave behind. Much of the useful material evidence with regard to daily life has been destroyed, particularly in very present-oriented matter, such as broadcasting. Broadcasting, particularly in its early years, was highly prized by contemporaries for its immediacy and currency. Unfortunately the repercussion of this valued immediacy was that most programs that Canadians listened to in the 1930s were not preserved, but simply dispersed into the ether.3 Thus most research with regard to early Canadian radio has focussed on the legislative and political discussion precipitated by commercial broadcasters, the Canadian Radio League, and the federal government. Assumptions about the threat of Americanization, the power of broadcasters, and the greed of advertisers figured heavily in discussions of this new medium, without any evidence of their links to potential listeners through program selection. In an effort to recapture the fragments that remain, content analysis of program schedules permits a reconstruction of the basic programming trends and developments in Canadian radio during the 1930s.

  • 4 Gerard Laurence, Le contenu des médias électroniques (St. Hyacinthe: Edisem, 1980); Paul Rutherfor (...)
  • 5 Paddy Scannell, “History and Culture,” Media, Culture & Society 2 (January 1980): 1.

4The need for content analysis to support other selective and theoretical research in the field has been long recognized in works such as Gérard Laurence’s Le contenu des médias électroniques and Paul Rutherford’s When Television Was Young: Primetime Canada 1952-1967.4 British communications historian and theorist, Paddy Scannell, has appealed for more research “solidly underpinned by detailed, empirical historical knowledge” in order to broaden a field that is very theoretical.5 Despite these early examples and pleas, this technique tends to be overlooked in this area of historical research.

  • 6 Michele Hilmes, Radio Voices: American Broadcasting, 1922-1952 (Minneapolis: University of Minneso (...)
  • 7 Robert W. McChesney, Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy: The Battle for the Control of (...)

5The international literature surrounding radio history is also profoundly limited when compared to that covering print media or television. American researcher Michele Hilmes argues that the neglect of radio arises from a “consensus-shaped, and unproblematic reflection of a pluralistic society, rather than the conflicting, tension-ridden site of the ruthless exercise of cultural hegemony... [over] alternative popular constructions that oppose and resist it.”6 Robert McChesney echoes this sentiment in Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy: The Battle for the Control of U.S. Broadcasting, 1928-1935, and objects to the neglect and trivialization of the movement for radio reform.7 His meticulous examination of the records of the principals in the battle for the control of broadcasting, tracks the unevenly matched contest between network broadcasters and a variety of groups that questioned the inevitability of network commercial broadcasting. The very discussion of the battle fought by these groups, however ineffectual, countered the conception that commercialization of American radio was the only possibility available for the development of the medium. Although the American networks managed to exercise cultural hegemony over broadcasting in the United States, commercial broadcasting did not seize absolute control in Canada. Canadian historians quickly focused on government intervention in the form of the creation of a national network, defining it as inevitable. Consequently the overwhelming focus on this national network has resulted in only fragmentary coverage of the remaining history of early Canadian radio.

  • 8 Among the reminiscences are: Bill McNeil and Morris Wolfe, The Birth of Radio in Canada: Signing O (...)
  • 9 Frank W. Peers, The Politics of Canadian Broadcasting, 1920-1951 (Toronto: University of Toronto P (...)
  • 10 Peers, Politics of Canadian Broadcasting, 284.
  • 11 Ibid., 3.

6The narrative of early Canadian radio history draws from a variety of disciplines, former broadcasters, and nostalgic literature.8 The first major academic work in Canadian broadcasting history was Frank W. Peers’ The Politics of Canadian Broadcasting, 1920-1951. His The Public Eye: Television and the Politics of Canadian Broadcasting, 1952-1968 completes the early national survey of broadcasting.9 The early literature was imbued with a sense of the national importance of the establishment of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Peers writes “... the political choices in the 1930’s were nearly all national in character - bound up with the feeling that Canada must have an identity of its own, that its communications should not be subordinate to or dependent on the enterprise or the industry of another country.”10 The expanding threat of American cultural imperialism is an underlying assumption in the early literature. Peers canonizes Graham Spry and Allan Plaunt and their lobbying efforts at the Canadian Radio League to move the Conservative government to create the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC). Peers’ ideas are crystallized in the assertion that “a unique Canadian system of broadcasting endures... it reflects values different from those prevailing in the British or American systems. It not only mirrors Canadian experience, but helps define it.”11

  • 12 Peers worked as a CBC producer, program organizer and supervisor of public affairs programs in rad (...)
  • 13 Michael Nolan, Foundations: Alan Plaunt and the Early Days of CBC Radio (Toronto: CBC Enterprises, (...)

7Peers’ thesis that public broadcasting mirrored and defined national identity has been accepted with little criticism. Increased Canadian dependence upon American political and economic policies, with cultural domination looming threateningly on the horizon, has provoked a number of studies concentrating upon the purely national aspects of Canadian broadcasting. Austin Weir’s history and dense memoir, The Struggle for National Broadcasting in Canada, and Margaret Prang’s “The Origins of Public Broadcasting in Canada,” gave equal weight to public broadcasting’s inevitable role as a cultivator of national identity.12 Prang viewed the adoption of public broadcasting, however flawed, as an expression of Canadian nationalism, specifically the “defensive expansionism” that came into being to counter the threat of American culture, and as an extension of John A. Macdonald’s National Policy. More recently Michael Nolan’s Foundations: Alan Plaunt and the Early Days of CBC Radio pursued a similar nationalist train of thought.13 Nolan depicted Plaunt as a product of the surge of post-war nationalism during the 1920s. The fundamental assumption of an American threat that could only be countered with a Canadian national network remains unquestioned in the wider discussion of twentieth century Canadian history.

  • 14 Mary Vipond, “‘Please Stand By for that Report’: The Historiography of Early Canadian Radio,” Fréq (...)
  • 15 Other general studies that accept this traditional view of radio history include: Albert A. Shea, (...)

8The shared specific concern of these works was indeed government action to promote Canadian broadcasting in the face of the threat of Americanization, a theme pursued by employing conventional sources such as government reports, private papers, and newspaper editorials.14 These traditional works and their nationalistic perspective long dominated the literature unchallenged.15 Standard surveys of Canadian history have relied on and reiterated the interpretations of Peers, Weir, and Prang. Thus, the nationalistic interpretations of radio’s past forged in the 1960s have been reinforced with repetition.

  • 16 Marc Raboy, Missed Opportunities: The Story of Canada’s Broadcasting Policy (Kingston and Montreal (...)

9Newer works stress alternative perspectives rather than novel approaches. Marc Raboy’s Missed Opportunities: The Story of Canada’s Broadcasting Policy judges the broadcasting system to be the result of interaction between the social pressure of public service broadcasting and pressure from financial interests to preserve Canada as a distinct entity from the United States.16 He argues that there is a blurring of the concept of “national” and “public” interest, making the broadcasting system an instrument of the state called “administrative broadcasting,” which serves to combat the internal threat of Quebec nationalism. Raboy, however, uses traditional sources and the familiar themes of regulation and national broadcasting to emphasize the failure to provide alternatives to a capitalist or administrative broadcasting structure and the neglect of Quebec within that structure.

  • 17 Michel Filion, Radiodiffusion et société distincte: Des origines de la radio jusqu’à la Révolution (...)

10Michel Filion also discusses broadcasting from the Quebec perspective in Radiodiffusion et société distincte: Des origines de la radio jusqu’à la Révolution tranquille au Québec.17 His broad survey essentially argues that the radio experience of French Canadians was distinct from that of their English-speaking counterparts in the “rest of Canada.” Despite Filion’s criticism of the traditional literature, he makes use of Peers, Weir, and the same government reports and committee proceedings for his research. He contends American programs presented no threat to Quebec culture in what he calls the “free market” period before 1932, nor were they a substantial threat in the “hybrid” period that followed. Although previous researchers may have been remiss in not belabouring such an obvious point, Filion’s basic premise that Quebecers were more loyal to their culture and better at developing indigenous cultural products for the new media than other provinces is a contention not supported by this content analysis.

11As an aural medium in a province that holds language to be its most distinctive element, American programs had little chance of penetration in unilingual French-speaking areas. Filion largely excludes the Montreal area and the presence of a large English-speaking population in Quebec, which presents a huge exception to his analysis. Alternatively it could be argued that the building of a national radio broadcasting network helped to broaden the base of both public and private broadcasting in the province, undoubtedly fostering and strengthening a distinct québécois culture. Despite this new perspective the use of traditional source material yields no new information with regard to programming.

  • 18 Mary Vipond, Listening In: The First Decade of Canadian Broadcasting. 1922-1932 (Kingston and Mont (...)
  • 19 Vipond, “‘Please Stand By for that Report’,” 23; Mary Vipond, “Financing Canadian Public Broadcast (...)

12More recent literature on early Canadian broadcasting has consisted of retrieving interesting strands of inquiry from the mass of remaining unexplored areas, largely stemming from the work of Mary Vipond. She overcame the obstacle of a lack of readily available resources by a close study, in part, of departmental files and correspondence relating to the regulation of radio broadcasting in the records of the Department of Marine and Fisheries. Vipond’s Listening In: The First Decade of Canadian Broadcasting 1922-1932 shifts the focus away from the establishment of the CRBC and CBC to examine the ad hoc development of broadcasting practices and private radio prior to the establishment of a national network.18 This study of the interplay and interdependence of the triangular relationship between manufacturers, broadcasters and their customers, and the audience, breaks new ground as the most complete study to date on the emergence of Canadian radio broadcasting a full decade prior to the intervention of public broadcasting in any form. This willingness, as in much of the international discourse, to forgo a strictly political discussion of radio has helped to widen the assessment of radio’s role and impact.19

13The content analysis that forms the background for the findings presented in this work is confined to the 1930s, a developmentally important decade for the medium of radio in Canada. The decade is defined by the change to broadcasting from exclusively private Canadian broadcasters and some American affiliates to the introduction of the CRBC and the CBC. A full daily broadcasting schedule became routine in the “thirties,” and radio grew to be one of the central popular entertainment media in North America. Within the confines of this decade the majority of Canadian radio stations moved to a new level of development, fully diversifying their schedules in the face of two monumental challenges: American commercial broadcasting and the establishment of Canadian network broadcasting.

14An analysis of the radio program schedules drawn from the newspapers of three major Canadian cities, Halifax, Vancouver, and Montreal, not only reveals a shared pattern of development but also regional and local differences as well as national and American influences. The cities represent the East Coast, West Coast, and a linguistically diverse central city. Moreover they encompass locations marked by differing influences: a strong impact of Canadian national networks in one city; a small independent competitive market in another; and a broadcasting environment characterized by American affiliation in the third. By studying these different media markets, it is possible to trace the contribution of a variety of environments and factors to the development of Canadian radio stations throughout the decade. The full schedule available to listeners employed for this content analysis includes the products of local stations and the American stations listed in the evenings, which present a realistic picture of the Canadian broadcasting environment.

  • 20 Harrison B. Summers, comp., A Thirty-Year History of Programs Carried on National Radio Networks i (...)

15The stratified random sample encompasses Sunday, 29 December 1929 to Saturday, 6 January 1940. Three weeks of program schedules yearly were drawn from the Vancouver Sun, Montreal Gazette, and Halifax Herald to pinpoint the impact of annual changes and to assess gradual trends. Although a sample of one week yearly may have illustrated the same patterns, this larger sample leveled out any abnormalities, bringing the results closer to the norm by providing a much more reliable picture of the radio schedule in the 1930s. Models for this work are extremely rare; thus a combination of contemporary and current compilations of radio programs formed a guide for categorization in this analysis.20

  • 21 William Albig, “The Content of Radio Programs, 1925-1935,” Social Forces, 16 (March 1938): 338-49.
  • 22 Christopher H. Sterling and John M. Kitross, Stay Tuned: A Concise History of American Broadcastin (...)

16The earliest content analysis of radio programming was American sociologist William Albig’s study “The Content of Radio Programs, 1925-1935.”21 Albig’s non-random judgmental sample was quite small, limited in scope to a study of only seven American radio stations. The work remains the background for more contemporary discussions such as Christopher Sterling and John Kitross’ Stay Tuned: A Concise History of American Broadcasting, which is the only content analysis from the period in existence aside from presentations to the Federal Communications Commission.22

17One of the most interesting findings of this content analysis is that contrary to popular expectations and beliefs, the establishment of the CBC not only promoted the growth of Canadian radio programming, but also provided a convenient vehicle for American programs. Detailed investigation reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the early Canadian radio schedules and the areas vulnerable to expanding American content. By including all the stations in the schedules, the development of Canadian radio can be evaluated alongside its American competition, emphasizing areas of neglect and development resulting from the interaction of an assortment of variables at work. Content analysis begins to fill in some of the lacunae in the literature of Canadian radio history especially with regard to the assessment of programming trends or the impact of American broadcasting on the Canadian environment. Throughout the 1930s, Canadian radio stations employed consistent strategies for development and a few core areas of programming to distinguish themselves in what was becoming an increasingly homogenized network broadcasting environment dependent on network-generated programs. While Canadian programming on Canadian stations was overwhelmingly dominant at the beginning of the decade, a significant shift occurred by 1939. The ultimate impact of network broadcasting during the 1930s is revealed in Table 1.1 below.

Table 1.1 Percentage of American Content on Radio Program Schedules on Canadian Stations in Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver, 1930-1939

City

1930

1939

Halifax

0.25

22.57

Montreal

4.42

23.43

Vancouver

2.42

16.85

18The technological context and economic boundaries of radio guaranteed the enduring influence of the American radio industry, due to the range of signals and the inability to block them. The network system that evolved in the United States and the demise of most independent stations may not have been inevitable. The early development of disparate broadcasting markets in Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver illustrate that local and Canadian programming had appeal and that independent stations were viable. The CBC’s decision to incorporate American network programming into its schedule made a powerful impact. The use of American network programs by the CBC in turn seemed to influence other Canadian radio stations to do the same, thereby changing the overall balance within Canadian broadcasting.

19From its earliest days in the 1920s, Canadian radio stations were never judged in isolation, but in comparison with the easily available and more highly developed offerings of the American radio industry. This became even more the case in the 1930s, as the American networks reached near complete domination of radio in that country. Many Canadians listened to American network programs directly on powerful border stations, and by 1930 four Canadian stations in Montreal and Toronto became American network affiliates. As American affiliates these Canadian stations possessed an increasingly diversified program schedule, and were able to branch out into several new genres of programming.

  • 23 Canada, Dominion Bureau of Statistics, General Statistics Branch, The Canada Year Book 1933 (Ottaw (...)

20The evolution of Canadian radio program schedules was also affected in the 1930s by the arrival of the public broadcasting networks, first the CRBC and then its successor the CBC. As in the United States, the Canadian networks offered local stations the possibility of increasing and diversifying their programming by affiliation. For those stations without affiliation, again as was the case with the American networks, the CRBC and CBC provided both comparison and competition. The fact that the CBC also picked up some of the most popular American network programs only exacerbated the competitive environment within which independent local Canadian stations struggled to survive. The role of the CBC within the larger historical literature is characterized as “fostering... Canadian ideals and culture” as the CRBC was described at its conception in the final report of the Special Committee on Radio Broadcasting.23 The reality of the CBC and the effect of its commercial policies were far removed from these early hopes. The lofty ideals and rhetoric of those who created the public broadcaster have remained part of the popular conception of the CBC; few realize that from its inception the CBC has also served, ironically, partially to facilitate and encourage the entry of American programming into Canada.

21The disparities among the Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver broadcasting environments are immediately apparent. Halifax was dominated by a single station, which became an affiliate of the CRBC and then the CBC. Montreal dealt effectively with the challenge of linguistic duality in part by the early American network affiliation of its two major stations. Vancouver was marked by its collection of competitive independent stations, somewhat removed from the direct impact of network broadcasting until the last years of the decade. Each station in turn employed similar strategies to deal with the challenges of the decade in order to diversify, survive, and preserve a local voice. Nevertheless the larger challenges of American network broadcasting and the development of a Canadian national network had a cumulative effect in each city that was remarkably similar.

22Operating independently at the outset of the decade, Halifax stations took years to incorporate even the minutest quantities of American content into their schedules. Without American network affiliation, Halifax area stations would seem to have been prime candidates for the use of electrical transcriptions. However, Table 1.2 indicates that availability of the technology to employ electrical transcriptions did not provide sufficient enticement to the stations to make an active use of American programs.

23The CRBC first delivered American programming directly to Halifax through CHNS in 1933. This was limited largely to orchestral music and the occasional serial. Even with these additions American content remained restricted to only 3.03 per cent of the schedule that year. The CRBC’s introduction to the Halifax broadcasting environment through CHNS constituted neither dramatic nor lasting change. In 1936 when three stations in the region, CFCY, CJLS, and CHNS, became part of the CBC network of radio stations, variable quantities of American content were introduced to the Halifax schedule.

24Between 1937 and 1938, the American programming on CHNS jumped almost three-fold, from 5.32 per cent of the schedule to 14.47 per cent. Broadcast hours remained consistent, while American content increased, most drastically in serialized dramas. American content also continued to be drawn from music, variety shows, children’s programming, and comedy. As a CBC affiliate the station’s access to and adoption of American programming grew, but more importantly for the first time it supplanted rather than merely supplemented the station’s Canadian offerings. By 1939 American programming was well entrenched in the CHNS schedule growing to 21.53 per cent. CHNS seemed to be competing with the CBC’s new network station, CBA in Sackville, by offering more American programming beyond that of the CBC schedule, thus distinguishing itself from its new competitor. By virtue of its longer broadcast day CHNS offered a greater quantity of American programs to the Halifax audience than CBA, though such programming constituted a slightly smaller proportion of the entire CHNS schedule.

Table 1.2 Percentages of Broadcast Duration of American Programs on Canadian Radio Stations in the Halifax Radio Program Schedule, 1930 to 1939

Table 1.2 Percentages of Broadcast Duration of American Programs on Canadian Radio Stations in the Halifax Radio Program Schedule, 1930 to 1939

25CKAC and CFCF were American affiliates from 1929 and 1930 respectively, thus making American content a fixed presence in the schedules of local Montreal radio stations throughout the decade. American programming on CKAC remained minimal until 1934 when it was faced with additional competition from CHLP (a French-language station) and CRCM (a CBC station), both entering the Montreal market the previous year. Whether the potential threat of these new stations was real or imagined, within a year of their arrival both CKAC and CFCF had almost doubled their American content from the year before. CHLP displayed a very limited interest in making American programs a part of its standard schedule. As a CRBC station, CRCM employed American content sparingly in its schedule. The very presence of competition, even on a part-time basis, reinforced and added to the use of American programming in the Montreal broadcasting market as a whole.

26In Montreal the CRBC was forced to build its own station since the existing profitable stations would not make time in their schedules for the Commission’s programming. Music was the only major component of American programming employed by CRCM, thus posing no immediate threat to the American affiliates. American content almost doubled on CKAC and CFCF during the first year of CRCM’s operations, thereby preserving their positions as providers of such programming. The levels of American content on these Montreal stations subsided slightly when it became obvious that CRCM would employ limited quantities of musical programming from the United States as indicated in Table 1.3. The launch of two CBC stations in Montreal in 1937 precipitated the next rise in American content in the city’s radio program schedule. Immediately upon its establishment CBM began making use of a diversified selection of American programs. For the first time the American affiliates were faced with the prospect of competing for American programs with another Montreal station. CFCF was forced out of its former position of preeminence in the realm of American serial drama. The extensive use of American programs by the CBC intensified the competition. By 1939 this greater proportion of American content became a permanent feature of the Montreal schedule.

  • 24 Ottawa Evening Citizen, 8 Feb. 1938, 7.

27The CBC may well have been serving its mandate by making American programs more available across the country. C.D. Howe, the Minister of Transportation, in an address to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters declared: “The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is one in which the shareholders are the listeners, and the corporation’s business is to give the listeners what they desire.”24 The network’s performance was at odds with Corporation Chairman Leonard Brockington’s description of the CBC as relying on American content solely for sophisticated programming and to provide financing for Canadian programming. The intensive use of American serial dramas and vaudeville-style performances did not fit Brockington’s description. Ironically, CBM’s arrival in Montreal seemed to have stimulated greater use of American programming on many of the city’s stations, itself included, contrary to the stated goals of the CBC network then, and the assumptions of historians since.

Table 1.3 Percentages of Broadcast Duration of American Programs on Canadian Radio Stations in the Montreal Radio Program Schedule, 1930 to 1939

Table 1.3 Percentages of Broadcast Duration of American Programs on Canadian Radio Stations in the Montreal Radio Program Schedule, 1930 to 1939

28The incorporation of American programming into the Vancouver radio program schedule differed from what happened in Montreal and Halifax in two ways. First, no Vancouver station ever acquired an American affiliation. Second, because the CRBC and CBC had their own station in the city, no opportunities for affiliation to the Canadian network were available to the other local stations. The city’s existing stations had only irregular access to American programs, which was reflected in their fluctuating use of American content.

29The constant presence of American border stations may also account for the meager offerings on the Canadian side. In the first few years of the decade, American programming was quite limited, as shown in Table 1.4. At any one station it might amount to the inclusion of only one regular program. Availability determined the selection of American programs. Without network affiliation the programs chosen did not always reflect the basic network successes, such as comedy, that tended to be the immediate foci of affiliates. Electrical transcriptions, which were not driven by network priorities, were one of the main sources of American programming on Vancouver radio stations.

30The appearance of CRBC stations in the Vancouver radio program schedule added to the negligible amount of American content. It was composed primarily of musical programs-such as those of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra-which constituted 76.92 per cent of that total. The other local independent stations made diminished use of American programming rather than increasing it, partly due to the expense and the lack of affiliation opportunities.

31Increased use of American programming on local stations coincided with the arrival of the CBC station CBR in 1937. By the end of 1937 American content reached 9.36 per cent of CBR’s schedule, a pattern paralleled by other local stations. In 1938, CBR led the way with the greatest quantity of American programming in the market, with 21.65 per cent of its schedule comprised of such content. Although significant in Vancouver, it fell well below the 29.21 per cent on the total CBC network schedule. Despite the fact that CBR had less American content than some other CBC stations, it stood in marked contrast to the other independent Vancouver stations that had employed even more limited quantities of American programs. All Vancouver stations, however, scheduled a much greater proportion of American content at the end of the decade than had been the case prior to the arrival of CBR.

32American programming grew slowly in Vancouver’s schedule. The lack of easy access to American programming through network affiliation was the major factor restraining the growth of American shows in Vancouver. As independents, Vancouver stations sparingly selected their American programs from those distributed through electrical transcription only. Once the local independent stations were faced with the prospect of competing with a full-time Canadian network station they selected American programs to assist in their diversification of the program schedules. The addition of the Canadian network station forever altered the market by making the inclusion of American programs a standard component of local offerings.

Table 1.4 Percentages of Broadcast Duration of American Programs on Canadian Radio Stations in the Vancouver Radio Program Schedule, 1930 to 1939

Table 1.4 Percentages of Broadcast Duration of American Programs on Canadian Radio Stations in the Vancouver Radio Program Schedule, 1930 to 1939

33The clear consistency in the growth and development of Canadian radio stations was evident despite divergent local circumstances. By the end of the decade there was a marked rise in the incorporation of American programs in the schedules of Canadian stations; American content amounted to 22.57 per cent in Halifax, 23.43 per cent in Montreal, and 16.85 per cent in Vancouver. Notably, American content reached approximately the same levels in the cumulative program schedules in all three cities despite their varied local circumstances. In Halifax, the CBC station CBA and the CBC affiliate CHNS aired 23.88 per cent and 21.53 per cent American programming respectively. In Montreal, a standard of approximately 20 per cent American content seems to have been set, with CBF contributing 18.29 per cent, CBM 22.39 per cent and CKAC 19.20 per cent. The major exceptions to this standard were CFCF at 43.19 per cent and CHLP at 2.16 per cent. In Vancouver, there was quite a range of usage of American material. Most stations provided fairly small amounts of American programming, with CKCD at 5.7 per cent, CKFC at 6.32 per cent, CKMO at 6.74 per cent, and CKWX at 8.43 per cent. The greater rates of incorporation of American content in the schedule were employed by CJOR at 29.28 per cent and CBR at 39.05 per cent, bringing the average to 16.85 per cent of the total program schedule. Despite the distinct routes that each city’s stations took with respect to their incorporation of American content, the results were similar. In each city the introduction of added American content through the local CBC station or affiliate provided the foundation for the legitimization and standardization of its use within the schedules of virtually all Canadian radio stations.

34The impact of network programming was perhaps unavoidable; the immediate increase and pervasive invasion of American network programs that accompanied the arrival of the CBC, however, indicates that at the very least the new network potentially accelerated the process of homogenization toward a North American culture. The resistance to such assimilation by Vancouver stations, CHNS in Halifax, until it became a CBC affiliate, and French-language stations in Montreal demonstrated that the process was not inevitable or necessary. The barrier to the assimilation of these stations into the larger North American culture may have been the lack of ability or means. However, content analysis of the program schedules reveals that the CBC forever altered the course of broadcast media in Canada by making it an inextricable part of a mixture dependent on both American and Canadian network programming.

Notes

1 Anne MacLennan, “Circumstances Beyond Our Control: Canadian Radio Program Schedule Evolution During the 1930s” (PhD. diss., Concordia University, 2001).

2 Michael Del Balso and Alan D. Lewis, First Steps: A Guide to Social Research, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Nelson Thomson Learning, 2000), 86; Arthur Asa Berger, Media and Communication Research Methods: An Introduction to Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2000), 139-40; W. Lawrence Neuman, Social Research Methods: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches, 5th ed. (Boston: Pearson Education Inc., 2003), 418-20.

3 Although the term “ether” is not technically correct it is historically appropriate, because the electromagnetic spectrum was widely referred to as the ether during the 1930s.

4 Gerard Laurence, Le contenu des médias électroniques (St. Hyacinthe: Edisem, 1980); Paul Rutherford, When Television Was Young: Primetime Canada 1952-1967 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990).

5 Paddy Scannell, “History and Culture,” Media, Culture & Society 2 (January 1980): 1.

6 Michele Hilmes, Radio Voices: American Broadcasting, 1922-1952 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), xvii.

7 Robert W. McChesney, Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy: The Battle for the Control of U.S. Broadcasting, 1928-1935 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).

8 Among the reminiscences are: Bill McNeil and Morris Wolfe, The Birth of Radio in Canada: Signing On (Toronto: Doubleday Canada Limited, 1982); T. J. Allard, Straight Up: Private Broadcasting in Canada, 1918-1958 (Ottawa: The Canadian Communications Foundation, 1979); Sandy Stewart, From Coast to Coast: A Personal History of Radio in Canada (Toronto: CBC Enterprises, 1985); Sandy Stewart, A Pictorial History of Radio in Canada (Toronto: Gage Publishing Limited, 1975); and Warner Troyer, The Sound and the Fury: An Anecdotal History of Canadian Broadcasting. (Toronto: Personal Library Publishers, 1982).

9 Frank W. Peers, The Politics of Canadian Broadcasting, 1920-1951 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969). The officially commissioned British survey is Asa Briggs, The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom, 4 vols. (London: Oxford University Press, 1961-1979). The American equivalent is Erik Barnouw, A Tower in Babel: A History of Broadcasting in the United States to 1933 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966) and The Golden Web: A History of Broadcasting in the United States 1933-1953 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968).

10 Peers, Politics of Canadian Broadcasting, 284.

11 Ibid., 3.

12 Peers worked as a CBC producer, program organizer and supervisor of public affairs programs in radio and television. E. Austin Weir, The Struggle for National Broadcasting in Canada (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1965). In May 1929, Weir was appointed head of the radio department of the Canadian National Railways’ national network of radio stations. By 1937 Weir became Commercial Manager of the CBC and Superintendent of the CBC Press and Information Services. Margaret Prang, “The Origins of Public roadcasting in Canada,” Canadian Historical Review 46 (March 1965): 1-31.

13 Michael Nolan, Foundations: Alan Plaunt and the Early Days of CBC Radio (Toronto: CBC Enterprises, 1986); Michael Joseph Nolan, “Alan Plaunt and Canadian Broadcasting” (PhD. diss., University of Western Ontario, 1983), 377.

14 Mary Vipond, “‘Please Stand By for that Report’: The Historiography of Early Canadian Radio,” Fréquence/Frequency 7-8 (1997): 13-17.

15 Other general studies that accept this traditional view of radio history include: Albert A. Shea, Broadcasting the Canadian Way (Montreal: Harvest House, 1963); E. S. Hallman with H. Hindley, Broadcasting in Canada (Don Mills: General Publishing Company Limited, 1977); Herschel Hardin, A Nation Unaware: The Canadian Economic Culture (Vancouver: J. J. Douglas Ltd., 1974); and David Ellis, Evolution of the Canadian Broadcasting System: Objectives and Realities 1928-1968 (Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services, 1979).

16 Marc Raboy, Missed Opportunities: The Story of Canada’s Broadcasting Policy (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990), xii.

17 Michel Filion, Radiodiffusion et société distincte: Des origines de la radio jusqu’à la Révolution tranquille au Québec (Laval: Éditions du Méridien, 1994).

18 Mary Vipond, Listening In: The First Decade of Canadian Broadcasting. 1922-1932 (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1992).

19 Vipond, “‘Please Stand By for that Report’,” 23; Mary Vipond, “Financing Canadian Public Broadcasting: License Fees and the ‘Culture of Caution’,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 15 (1995): 285-300; Mary Vipond, “London Listens: The Popularity of Radio in the Depression,” Ontario History 88 (March 1996): 47-63; Mary Vipond, “The Beginning of Public Broadcasting in Canada: The CRBC, 1932-36,” Canadian Journal of Communication 19 (1994): 151-71; Mary Vipond, “The Continental Marketplace: Authority, Advertiser, and Audiences in Canadian News Broadcasting, 1932-1936,” Journal of Radio Studies 6 (1999): 169-84; Mary Vipond, “Desperately Seeking the Audience for English Canadian Radio,” in Michael D. Behiels and Marcel Martel, eds., Nation, Ideas, Identities: Essays in Honour of Ramsay Cook (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2000), 86-96.

20 Harrison B. Summers, comp., A Thirty-Year History of Programs Carried on National Radio Networks in the United States 1926-1956, orig. ed. 1958 (New York: Amo Press Inc., 1971). Similar, although not as comprehensive, information is also available in promotional material from the networks, which published lists of their popular sponsored and sustaining programs. NBC, NBC Network Programs (NBC, June 1938); NBC, NBC Network Programs (NBC, November 1938). The categories employed by Gladstone Murray were (a) Music-(1-serious, 2-popular); (b) Talks and Dialogue; (c) Dramatic; (d) Variety (comedy, etc); (e) News; (f) Special Events; (g) Religious and Devotional; (h) Children’s Programs; (i) Educational; (j) Sport; and (k) Women’s Programs. Canada, House of Commons, Special Committee on Radio Broadcasting, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence (Ottawa: King’s Printer, 1939), 302. Jon D. Swartz and Robert C. Reinehr, Handbook of Old-Time Radio: A Comprehensive Guide to Golden Age Radio Listening and Collecting (Metuchen, New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1993); John Dunning, On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); Frank Buxton and Bill Owen, The Big Broadcast, 1920-1950 (New York: Viking, 1972); Vincent Terrace, Radio’s Golden Years (San Diego: Barnes, 1981). The categories used were: adventure; crime and mystery; astrology; children; comedy; drama; drama anthology; education; exercise; games; music; dance music; religious music; news; opera; quiz; religious; serial drama; special; sports; sustaining; talk; talk and information; variety; women; and unidentified. Percentages of programs refer to identified programming unless otherwise specified.

21 William Albig, “The Content of Radio Programs, 1925-1935,” Social Forces, 16 (March 1938): 338-49.

22 Christopher H. Sterling and John M. Kitross, Stay Tuned: A Concise History of American Broadcasting, 2nd ed. (Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1990), 120.

23 Canada, Dominion Bureau of Statistics, General Statistics Branch, The Canada Year Book 1933 (Ottawa: King’s Printer, 1933), 732.

24 Ottawa Evening Citizen, 8 Feb. 1938, 7.

Table des illustrations

Titre Table 1.2 Percentages of Broadcast Duration of American Programs on Canadian Radio Stations in the Halifax Radio Program Schedule, 1930 to 1939
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/1087/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 94k
Titre Table 1.3 Percentages of Broadcast Duration of American Programs on Canadian Radio Stations in the Montreal Radio Program Schedule, 1930 to 1939
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/1087/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 31k
Titre Table 1.4 Percentages of Broadcast Duration of American Programs on Canadian Radio Stations in the Vancouver Radio Program Schedule, 1930 to 1939
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/1087/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 30k

Auteur

Sessional Assistant Professor at York University and a recent PhD graduate in History from Concordia University. Her dissertation Circumstances Beyond Our Control: Canadian Radio Program Schedule Evolution During the 1930s is under revision for publication as a monograph and she is researching qualitative aspects of early broadcasting

© Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa Press, 2005

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540