“As If We Lived on Maine St. in Kansas, USA”: Shortwave Broadcasting and American Mass Media in Wartime China
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.
KeywordsPostal Service Listening Experience Personal Message Shortwave Radio Sunday Evening
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