“As If We Lived on Maine St. in Kansas, USA”: Shortwave Broadcasting and American Mass Media in Wartime China

  • Michael A. Krysko
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media book series (PSHM)


The morning of February 19, 1939 was thrilling for Addie Viola Smith. “AN ECSTATIC MOMENT,” she exclaimed, describing her feelings at precisely 8:00 am on that chilly Sunday morning. “From this time onward to 11:30 am … [my] apartment hummed with excitement and incessant telephone rings brought in observers’ reports from various parts of the city, telling of glad tidings.” Smith, the long-serving American Trade Commissioner for Shanghai, was referring to the very first broadcasts of W6XBE, a California-based shortwave station established to broadcast American radio programming to China. “W6XBE came in … as clear as a local station in many parts of Shanghai, and very good in buildings noted for poor reception,” Smith reported.1 For four years, Smith lobbied for just such a station. Smith, like many other Americans, believed that international radio could serve as a vehicle for beneficial cross-cultural and economic exchanges across international borders. From this vantage point, W6XBE’s inaugural broadcast presumably heralded the beginning of a new era in American-East Asian relations.


Postal Service Listening Experience Personal Message Shortwave Radio Sunday Evening 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, rev. ed. (New York: Verso Press, 1991). Since the publication of Anderson’s original analysis, the notion of the “imagined community” has informed many subsequent analyses, including:Google Scholar
  2. Richard R. John, Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse ( Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995 )Google Scholar
  3. Yongming Zhou, Historicizing Online Politics: Telegraphy, the Internet, and Political Participation in China ( Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press 2006 )Google Scholar
  4. Monroe E. Price, Television, the Public Sphere, and National Identity ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1995 )Google Scholar
  5. Elihu Katz, “Deliver Us From Segmentation,” in A Communications Cornucopia: Markle Foundation Essays on Information Policy, ed. Roger G. Noll and Monroe E. Price ( Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1998 ), 99–112.Google Scholar
  6. For two examples of radio histories that have been informed by Anderson, see Hilmes, Radio Voices and Joy Elizabeth Hayes, Radio Nation, Communication, Popular Culture, and Nationalism in Mexico, 1920–1950 ( Tuscon: University of Arizona Press, 2000 ).Google Scholar
  7. 37.
    On the social gospel as implemented in China and the United States, see Jun Xing, Baptized in the Fire of Revolution: The American Social Gospel and the YMCA in China, 1919–1937. (Cranberry, NJ: Lehigh University Press, 1996), especially chap. 1 (“The Social Gospel and the YMCA in the United States”) and chap. 2 (“The Social Gospel and the YMCA in China”). For a brief overview of the application of the social gospel in the American context, see George Brown Tindall and David Emory Shi, America: A Narrative History, brief 7th ed. ( New York: W.W. Norton, 2007 ), 609–11.Google Scholar
  8. 45.
    Bruce Lenthall, Radio’s America: The Great Depression and the Rise of Modern Mass Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 53–82, esp. 54, 72, 73, and 81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 56.
    Jane Hunter, The Gospel of Gentility: American Missionary Women in Turn-of-the-Century China (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984), esp. 128–73Google Scholar
  10. 68.
    Bill Trent, “Dr. Robert McClure: missionary-surgeon extraordinaire,” Canada Medical Association Journal 132 (February 1985): 431–4.Google Scholar
  11. Renqiu Yu, To Save China, To Save Ourselves: The Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance of New York ( Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992 )Google Scholar
  12. Brian Masamuru Hayashi, ‘For the Sake of Our Japanese Brethren’: Assimilation, Nationalism, and Protestantism Among the Japanese of Los Angeles, 1895–1942 ( Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael A. Krysko 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. Krysko
    • 1
  1. 1.Kansas State UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations