This article analyzes the 1940s radio series You Are There, originally titled CBS Is There. The series illuminates media history in two ways. First, it provides insight into a time of momentous change in the broadcasting industry. Its creative blend of fact and fiction challenged conventional definitions ofjournalism and documentary at a time when significant changes were sweeping U.S. broadcasting, underscoring the power and authority of audio journalism even as television was starting to eclipse radio as a national medium. Second, You Are There demonstrates how popular culture’s depictions of the past typically speak as much to contemporary concerns as they do to those of the past. The series expressed the optimistic liberalism of its producer-director Robert Lewis Shayon in addressing postwar debates over isolationism, prejudice, and freedom of thought. At the same time, You Are There told stories of heroic individualism that celebrated classically American virtues and reproduced consensual, patriotic interpretations of US history.
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