Between 1895 and 1920, the United States saw a sharp increase in commercial sound recording, the first mass medium of home entertainment.
As companies sought to discover what kinds of records would appeal to consumers, they turned to performance forms already familiar to contemporary audiences—sales pitches, oratory, sermons, and stories. In A Most Valuable Medium, Richard Bauman explores the practical problems that producers and performers confronted when adapting familiar oral genres to this innovative medium of sound recording. He also examines how audiences responded to these modified and commoditized presentations.
Featuring audio examples throughout and offering a novel look at the early history of sound recording, A Most Valuable Medium reveals how this new technology effected monumental change in the ways we receive information.