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Radio Survivor

On the show this week we explore a piv­otal peri­od for radio news in the 1930s and learn why the Lind­bergh kid­nap­ping changed every­thing. Trav­el back in time with us. It’s March 1932 and a hor­ri­ble crime has just occurred, the kid­nap­ping of the 20-month-old son of famed avi­a­tor Charles Lind­bergh and his wife Anne Mor­row Lind­bergh. Imag­ine that you were liv­ing in the Unit­ed States in 1932 and want­ed to fol­low break­ing news about this sto­ry. If it were 2021, the answer might be Twit­ter or the inter­net. But in the ear­ly 1930s, it was obvi­ous­ly a very dif­fer­ent media land­scape, large­ly con­sist­ing of print jour­nal­ism, news reels, and radio. Our guest, Thomas Doher­ty joins us to pro­vide his­tor­i­cal con­text and shed light on radio’s role in the media fren­zy sur­round­ing the kid­nap­ping of the Lind­bergh baby and sub­se­quent tri­al and why it was a turn­ing point for how break­ing news was cov­ered. Thomas Doher­ty, Pro­fes­sor of Amer­i­can Stud­ies at Bran­deis, is the author of Lit­tle Lindy is Kid­napped: How the Media Cov­ered the Crime of the Cen­tu­ry.