Princeton Radio Research Project

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Beginning in 1937, the Princeton Radio Research Project was a large-scale study on the social effects of radio. An Office of Radio Research was created to carry out the work, initially under the auspices of Princeton University, New Jersey. Initial funding of $67,000 was provided by the Rockefeller Foundation.[1]

Participants included:

Among the Project's first studies were soap operas, known as radio dramas at the time.

The Radio Project also researched the 1938 Halloween broadcast of The War of the Worlds. They found that of the estimated 6 million people who heard this broadcast, 25% thought it was real. Most of the people who panicked did not think that it was an invasion from Mars that was occurring, but rather an invasion by the Germans. It was later determined that because of the radio broadcasts from the Munich Crisis earlier in the year, the masses were prone to this.

A third research project was that of listening habits. Because of this, a new method was developed used to survey an audience - this was dubbed the Little Annie Project. The official name was the Stanton-Lazarsfeld Program Analyzer. This allowed one not only to find out if a listener liked the performance, but how they felt at any individual moment, through a dial which they would turn to express their preference (positive or negative). This has since become an essential tool in focus group research.

Notes

  1. David W. Park, Jefferson Pooley (2008) The history of media and communication research: contested memories.   Peter Lang Publishing . ISBN 0820488291. "$67000 over two years to fund a "Princeton Radio Research Project,""
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