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Writing the Radio WarLiterature, Politics and the BBC, 1939-1945$
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Ian Whittington

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474413596

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474413596.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 25 July 2021

Introduction: Projecting Britain

Introduction: Projecting Britain

(p.1) Introduction: Projecting Britain
Writing the Radio War

Ian Whittington

Edinburgh University Press

As a central and previously untested mass medium in the context of war, radio served as a resonant chamber through which British writers articulated, on behalf of a series of newly empowered publics, the social and political changes brought on by the Second World War. In mediating the conflict for British citizens, broadcasting bound listeners together in an auditory imagined community—a radio public—that was affiliative and participatory; though cut off from “speaking back” directly via radio, this public made itself known through listener surveys (both internal and external to the BBC), letters to the editors of publications (both radio-specific and non-), and direct correspondence with broadcasters. The affective connections enabled by the medium amplified structural changes underway during the conflict, as the pressures of total war demanded that the BBC modify its top-down model of broadcasting in favour of more demotic forms of address and cultural content. Though complex, the Corporation’s wartime renegotiation of its national role traces a shift away from the paternalism of the interwar BBC, under the direction of Sir John Reith, and towards a postwar model of multiple wavelengths serving multiple audiences in multiple registers.

Keywords:   BBC, Second World War, Imagined Community, Nationalism, Publics, Intermediality, Propaganda

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