Radio utopia: Promoting public interest in a 1940s radio documentary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Historical studies can be powerful means for enhancing critical understanding of journalism. This study examines an acclaimed 1947 American radio documentary as an example of utopian journalism aligning with the interests of powerful individuals and institutions. CBS's The Eagle's Brood, written by Robert Lewis Shayon, advocated the grassroots-organizing philosophy of Saul Alinsky as a solution to juvenile delinquency. If in that way the documentary aimed at promoting the public interest, CBS also used radio research to promote and gauge interest in the documentary itself. Finally, the program promoted the image of CBS as serving the public interest at a time when the broadcasting industry faced increased regulatory scrutiny. CBS largely abandoned its radio documentaries soon afterward and Shayon was blacklisted. Still, The Eagle's Brood provides a historical example of corporate media granting airtime to an alternative journalistic form and presenting an idealistic view of Americans confronting and solving their problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-873
Number of pages15
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Journalism history
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Radio documentary
  • Radio history
  • Robert lewis shayon
  • Saul alinsky

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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