WCFL: Chicago’s Voice of Labor


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By Nathan Godfried
University of Illinois Press

Chicago radio station WCFL was the first and longest surviving labor radio station in the nation, beginning in 1926 as a listener-supported station owned and operated by the Chicago Federation of Labor and lasting more than fifty years. The station emphasized popular entertainment and labor and public affairs programming, seeking during its early decades to help organize workers, increase public awareness and support for the union movement, and enhance working-class consciousness and culture.

Nathan Godfried analyzes labor’s challenge to the dominant media by examining the station’s history and its dialectical relationship with the organized labor movement, the corporate radio world, and the federal government from 1926 to 1978. The station’s story will be of interest to both labor and broadcast historians, showing how WCFL’s development paralleled important changes in the organized labor movement and in the movement’s interaction with business and government.

“An important contribution to the expanding literature dealing with the impact of mass culture on American life and, more especially, with the attempts of working people to use movies, radio, and the like to serve their own class, gender, ethnic, or racial needs.” — Steven J. Ross, author of Workers on the Edge: Work, Leisure, and Politics in Industrializing Cincinnati, 1788-1890

Additional information

Weight 19.9 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × 1 in


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