Across the WavesHow the United States and France Shaped the International Age of Radio

Across the WavesHow the United States and France Shaped the International Age of Radio

Derek W. Vaillant

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780252041419

Publisher: University of Illinois Press


This book is a history of U.S.–French radio broadcasting in the twentieth century. Decades before satellite TV and the Internet, America and France interconnected regularly and instantaneously on a mass scale across the Atlantic. The book investigates how transatlantic radio developed into a dynamic field of cross-border circulation, cultural exchange, and geopolitics. Between 1931, when live broadcasts first linked U.S.–French listeners, and 1974, when France dissolved its public media monopoly, international broadcasting developed into a critical communication space that embodied turbulent interwar politics and the expansive tendencies of U.S. commercial networks; the cataclysmic events of World War II, including the German Occupation of France; contentious U.S.–French relations during the Cold War; French postwar international media expansion; and the effects of the 1960s on U.S.–French ties and media systems. The book examines the techno-aesthetics of radio as a technological medium linking two allied, but starkly different societies and cultures in new ways. The book complicates the paradigm of self-contained "radio nations" to demonstrate that throughout broadcast history, the challenges of developing and managing international interconnectivity required necessary partnerships that blurred lines of sovereignty, state control, and national cultural production. Radio’s development and usage prefigured the global, cross-border digital communication technologies, tools, infrastructure, and mediated geopolitics of today.