Early Latin-Themed and Spanish-Language Radio Broadcasts, 1920s–1940s
This chapter critiques U.S. on-air programs intended to “charm and culturally enlighten” Latino-Americans. These programs posed as romanticized “borderless” sites where cultural groups traversed geographical and cultural boundaries. They produced a cultured and sophisticated image of Latin America and peddled themes of hemispheric unity. However, a clear disjuncture existed between the friendly on-air imaginings of Latin Americans and the actual legal and social controversies that plagued Mexicans. U.S. on-air programs seldom discussed the political and social struggles occurring with Mexicans in the United States, particularly the national news reporting Mexicans as the primary cause of immigration problems. Hence, American listeners developed “imaginary friendships” with Mexicans while Mexican communities living were being depicted as unruly neighbors.
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