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1940's Radio Broadcasting and the WW2 War Machine

Orson Welles terrifies nation with broadcastThe Power of Radio Broadcasting

The Media Machine during WW2

Radio was hugely popular in the 1930’s and with sets readily available to the masses through mass production listening figures were high. Its influences were unmistakable after the famous Orson Welles’s broadcast, “War of the Worlds”, Halloween, 1938.

Late Tuners did not Hear the Disclaimer!

Orson Welles introduced an original adaptation of the classic science fiction novel by H. G. Wells, alien invasion “War of the Worlds”. The adaptation started as normal but was interrupted by news reports of an alien invasion as per Orson Welles script. Unfortunately for those listeners that had tuned in late and did not listen to the disclaimer the reality was somewhat different and consequently mayhem ensued.

George Orwell BBC PresenterPsychological Warfare and Radio Broadcasting WW2

It was no secret radio was going to play a major part in communicating with the general public during the ensuing conflict. On the flip side, there were misinformation broadcasts by the German Propaganda Machine which began on 18th September, 1939 and hosted by Lord Haw Haw.

We were entering a new age of Media Psychological Warfare, one that all sides would abuse to its maximum potential. Listening to BBC broadcast in occupied countries carried the death penalty and owning a radio in Poland was outlawed although a special Morse Code Service was transmitted for localised printed distribution.

 Scheduled Broadcasting

BBC TV transmissions were suspended during the war leaving radio as a primary media source helping to boosting the nation’s morale by maintaining a regular schedule and current news source. There were regular conflicts between the BBC and the Ministry of Information regarding content as you would expect in a fierce propaganda war which let to notable resignations at the BBC.

Loading up Entertainers for Battle

You could write pages covering the contributions by celebrities during WW2 but we have picked out three we thought stood out to give you a cross-section.

DDame vera margaret lynname Vera Margaret Lynn, CH DBE OStJ (20 March 1917 – STILL GOING STRONG)

Very much a part of the war machine, Dame Vera Lynn’s tireless efforts entertaining servicemen was a huge contribution in maintaining moral. Her constant flow of timeless classics throughout the war were uplifting making the best of any situation.

LLord Haw Haw AKA William Joyceord Haw Haw (William Joyce) (24 April 1906 – 3 January 1946)

Germany had been hitting hard with Lord Haw-Haw who transmitted from 18 September 1939 and continued until 30 April 1945. His shows were deliberately designed to discourage and demoralise the allies and proved to be quite popular versus the more formal BBC transmissions.

MMarlene Dietricharie Magdalene "Marlene" Dietrich German - 27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992

Marlene Dietrich turned down an invitation by the Nazi Party to return to Germany and teamed up with the allies. Many of her recordings were very sad and deliberately aimed at demoralising German troops who were thinking of home and loved ones.


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