Radio was one of several technologies that early twentieth-century reformers promoted as a means of modernizing and improving rural American life. Although the new medium was introduced in the 1920s, it was during the Depression decade of the 1930s that most rural families bought their first set. With the coming of radio, formerly isolated rural homes had access to world news, current weather and market reports, and a host of USDA-produced agricultural programs. However, it was the national network entertainment programs with their many advertisements that promised Depression-era rural listeners a better tomorrow in the form of a modernized urban consumer lifestyle. This article explores the coming of radio to rural areas during the 1930s and reviews some contemporary industry research findings on rural radio usage and consumer behavior.

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