Radios-Good and Evil

“It’s just a fad,”  says Lord Grantham the patriarch of Downtown Abbey. Dave and I are watching the fifth season of the Downtown Abbey series and in a recent episode Rose, a young relative who lives with the family, lobbies for a wireless radio in the house. Lord Grantham finally rents one when he learns a speech by King George V  will be broadcast on the radio.  The family gathers to listen to the speech and later Lord Grantham agrees to keep the wireless, even though he declares, “it’s just a fad.”  In the mean time the lord’s mother predicts that the intimacy of radio will do damage to the royal family who needs to maintain an aura of mystery and detachment from the public. 

all-the-light-we-cannot-see“Radio- it ties a million ears to a single mouth.” That’s a quote from a book I just finished reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Radios play such an important role in the World War II novel.  Eventually it is a radio which brings together the two young protagonists whose alternating stories have engaged us throughout the novel. The book demonstrates how the radio can be used both for good and evil.  A quote from Nazi cabinet minister Joseph Goebbels begins the book “It would not have been possible for us to take power or to use it in the ways we have without the radio. “

We listened to American talk shows on the radio as we drove to Arizona.  One thing that struck me about hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham was the utter disrespect they have for President Obama.  It was almost embarrassing to listen to.  Many Canadians do not agree with the policies and actions of our prime minister Stephen Harper, but you don’t hear people on the radio here calling him the devil incarnate, a spoiled child, evil, a traitor to his country, or stupid.  Americans elected their president democratically.  Shouldn’t that entitle him to at least a modicum of respect? 

Me and my Grandpa Schmidt

Me and my Grandpa Schmidt

My maternal grandfather loved to listen to shows on his Philco radio. He would lie on the couch and laugh and laugh until his mother-in-law Marie who thought listening to the radio was far too worldly, would shake her head and say to her daughter Annie, “My goodness. What is Pete laughing about now?”

Other posts about the radio……….

I was  on the Radio

Radio on the Road

Where Were You? 


Filed under Books, Culture, Family, Politics

2 responses to “Radios-Good and Evil

  1. Charles Loewen

    That aggressive political culture has long been a feature of American politics. George Bush got very similar treatment. As did Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. Very robust politics.


  2. Charles Loewen

    I could add Sarah Palin and Jimmy Carter


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