“Narrowcasting, Intracultural Diversity and Radio: The Contributions of Cooper, Benson and Williams to the Black Self - Image,” The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Southeastern Colloquium; University of South F

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  “Narrowcasting, Intracultural Diversity and Radio: The Contributions of Cooper, Benson and Williams to the Black Self - Image,” The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Southeastern Colloquium; University of South Florida,
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  Narrowcasting, Intracultural Diversity and Radio: The Contributions of Cooper, Benson and Williams to the Black Self –  Image Darrell Newton Since the early 1920s, researchers have attempted to underscore the evidence of media’s effects upon society. Subject matters rang ing from war propaganda, sexuality, the agenda setting qualities of news and cultivation have been examined and reexamined both quantifiably and qualitatively. The “War of the Worlds” broadcast will remain throughout history as an example of media’s influence while notions of bullet theory and the hypodermic needle model have become out-dated and woefully problematic. Perhaps one of the most principal issues analyzed was that of mass movements of politics and culture. Blumer in 1951 attempted to describe the importance of mass behavior as it relates to media’s influence. He researched urbanization and media, arguing that mass behavior had reached a critical mass due in part to the detachment of many people from local cultures and local group settings. Changes of residence, the radio and multiple sources of education all opened up worlds, thrusting individuals into a wider, worldlier existence. These same audiences were detached from customary moorings and were in danger of losing touch with historical values and traditions. i  At this time however, very little attention was paid to the effects of mass media upon minority or ethnic subcultures throughout the country. However notions of race prejudice and stereotypic construction  remained firm in the minds of many American audiences. There were no major concerns over homogeneity within Black audiences due to cultural and racial marginalizing or simple non-recognition. Within this paper, I examine the efforts of three men to forge multiple programming and identities for Black audiences from the mid-forties until the mid-fifties. These men also helped to incorporate a diversity of Black voices at a time when few Blacks, if any, had a direct involvement in the affectation of cultural production, particularly within early radio. While their accomplishments have been previously chronicled, this paper chiefly examines how specific forms of media effects can be applied to their individual successes. Jack Cooper, Al Benson and Nat Williams assisted Black audiences in maintaining a consciousness of fluidity thereby resisting stereotypic construction or cultural authenticity. Through radio narrowcasting and broadcasting, ii  each of these men had their own specific plan for radio; their own separate niche to carve out of the black community. Any misconceptions about a singular black identity or other forms of essentialism were clearly disrupted by their efforts. As a measure of their influence, I engage principally with social cognitive theory; more specifically Bandura’s self-reflexivity modes as processes of thought verification; a process that assisted the audiences of all men in their search for presence. iii  There was  no mass influence present in their usage of radio (Blumer), instead a specific intention toward albeit a subaltern place with multiple subjectivity. i   Blumer, H. “The Mass, the public and public opinion.”  New Outlines of the Principles of Sociology. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1951. ii  Here narrowcasting is defined as a process in which a producer assumes that only a minute portion of a larger market will be interested in the subject matter of the program. This concept was later used to define programming strategies for cable, internet and satellite radio, pay-per-view and other media outlets. This term can also apply to line-of-sight transmission. iii   Bandura, Albert. “Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication.” Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum, 1994: 65-90.
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