Radio vs. Print. The shift from a print-based culture to an electronic culture commenced during the 1920s. Nonetheless, the decade witnessed major publishing developments. The print and the sound media did not engage in open combat because radio was not yet a strong threat to the financial well-being of newspapers and magazines. Moreover, radio was not yet an effective news medium. People listened to radio bulletins, but they relied on newspapers to "read all about it."
Ad Revenue. No matter how large their circulation figures are, twentieth-century newspapers and magazines do not survive on income from selling copies, unless the sample-copy price is prohibitively high. (Even The Reader's Digest was eventually compelled to withdraw its ban on advertising.) Advertising revenue supports all newspapers and unsubsidized magazines. Ad rates are based on circulation; the larger the circulation, the higher the rates. When a periodical loses its advertising, it dies.
Commercials. The first radio commercial—an ad for a New York apartment building—was heard in August 1922. The advertiser reportedly paid $100. By the end of the decade almost $20 million was spent by advertisers for network time. Nonetheless, print culture continued to thrive in the early years of radio. Hugely successful new magazines and major book publishing houses were born in the...
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