ADVANTAGES

The WLS Showboat—the "Floating Palace of Wonder," (21 min.). . The earliest entertainment shows in commercial broadcasting were not the soap operas, serial dramas, and comedy shows often characterized as "early radio"—those arrived in the 1930s. Twenties radio offered listeners the same fare they could hear in theaters—opera, orchestral performances, vaudeville routines, musical revues, etc., and could read in newspapers—news, weather, stock market closing prices, farm updates, home management advice, etc., adding such features as bedtime stories for children. WLS Chicago, created in 1924 by Sears Roebuck & Co. to increase its outreach to midwestern farmers, offered a weekly variety program, the WLS Showboat, the "Floating Palace of Wonder." Listeners would "travel" along American rivers on the Showboat and enjoy songs and humorous banter not unlike vaudeville [music hall song-and-dance acts]. This undated broadcast is archived by the Library of American Broadcasting at the University of Maryland. Listen to the audio clip while reading the transcript. What characterized 1920s radio entertainment? How did it set the stage, so to speak, for later radio and television entertainment? (Audio clip online; transcript, 10 pp.)

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