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The Great Arsenal of Democracy—December 29, 1940 Medium

The speech was actually among F.D.R.’s “Fireside Chat’s,” periodic speeches he would give to the nation via radio broadcast to keep citizens informed of policy and political developments between 1933 and 1944.

Television did not yet exist, but radio was a popular broadcast mechanism; many radio stations and networks had regular series and radio shows. The radio was generally placed in a common room, perhaps a living room that also had a fireplace. So, listeners might be sitting next to the radio while a warm fire blazed in the fireplace. The fireside chats were not a regular series; only 30 occurred during the 11-year period (an average of less than three per year), but they were among the first means by which a U.S. president spoke to a mass audience of citizens.

Modal Attention Filtering

Audio without any visual enhancement can help to focus attention; but it eliminates the visual dominance attribute of the model, except that a listener could visualize the president as he spoke because of images of him they had seen in print. Again, when an image is absent the mind attempts to create an image to help it process information. Nevertheless, the radio broadcast could filter other visual information that could be a distraction to the message, unless the listener was distracted by something at his or her home.

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