You’re Used To Loudmouths

The prize-winner in an Italian Fascist painting contest from 1939. Contest entrants were charged to paint a family listening to Mussolini on the radio. Writes a Life Magazine writer about the contest: “[The] most noticeable fact about these pictures is the listeners’ sameness of expression. Evidently listening to Mussolini on the radio is not much fun in Italy and the sound of his voice seems to have a numbing effect on the populace.”

Photo and article quotation from Life Magazine (21 Aug., 1939), 35.

Select sources

General Introductions to Nationalism

  • Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism: Theory, IdeologyHistory (Malden, MA: Polity, 2001).
  • Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, second edition (London: Verso, 1991).

Political Spellbinding

Fascist Totalitarian State Propaganda

  • My working definition of Fascism for this episode: Fascism is a 20th-century, ultra-nationalist, extreme right-wing, totalitarian political idea that’s organized around the personal mystique of a militaristic, charismatic dictator, and that uses modern, industrial media to convey propaganda to their national audiences.
  • Stephen Gundle, “Mass culture and the cult of personality” in Stephen Gundle, Christopher Duggan, and Giuliana Pieri, eds, The Cult of the Duce: Mussolini and the Italians (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 86. At
  • Konrad Jarausch, A New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015), 173.
  • Lyrics of Giovinezza at Wikipedia:, accessed 20 May, 2023.
  • Rebecca Donner, All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler (New York: Little, Brown & Co., 2021), 72.
  • Huub Wijfjes, “Spellbinding and Crooning: Sound Amplification, Radio, and Political Rhetoric in International Comparative Perspective, 1900–1945,” in Technology & Culture, 55:1 (Jan., 2014), 169. Note that the Nazi radio statistic also comes from Wijfjes, who is quoting another German scholar.
  • César Saerchinger, “Radio as a Political Instrument,” in Foreign Affairs, 16:2 (Jan., 1938), 250–251.
  • For more on Saerchinger, see his obituary in the New York Times. “César CSaechinger, a Pioneer in Transatlantic Radio, Dies,” New York Times (11 Oct., 1971), 38.

Sound Files (not created by Doug)


You’re Amped Up

Amplifiers and loudspeakers had become boring in the United States by 1926. Yet they had only been invented a couple of decades earlier. At other points in history, a revolutionary technology like this—one so impactful on the world—would have taken much longer to adopt.

Source: Wireless World (June 30, 1926), 878. Available via Google Books

Select sources

Present-Day Sources about Electronic Amplification and Related Technologies

Secondary Source

Select Primary Sources

  • “Men of Science See De Forest’s Audion,” New York Times, 11 December, 1915.
  • “Crowd Hears Loan Speech from Plane High in Sky” Washington Times, Final edition, 21 Apr., 1919, 1 & 17.
  • “A Voice from the Sky,” Popular Science Monthly, Vol. 95, No. 1 (July 1919), 81.
  • Robert William West, Purposive Public Speaking: A College Text Book for Courses in Public Speaking (New York: Macmillan Company, 1924), 4.
  • “Loud-Speakers in Bath Abbey: Improving Poor Acoustics in a Famous Church” in Wireless World (June 2, 1926), 736.
  • “The Ubiquitous Loud-Speaker” photo & caption, Wireless World (June 30, 1926), 878.