The Radio Nature League

in Science on the Air

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780226467597
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226466958 | DOI:
The Radio Nature League

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Thornton W. Burgess was a successful children's book author. His animal characters and natural history lessons had been enchanting children and their parents for many years. He also had his own show, broadcast throughout Massachusetts. Burgess embraced a cosmopolitan, democratic, and pragmatic attitude toward science popularization. He assumed that the public was eager to learn about science and nature and that radio could assist that quest for understanding, and he was not averse to employing entertainment to enliven his presentations. He also devoted considerable attention to influencing the attitudes of his fellow citizens toward their natural surroundings. In January 1925 Burgess founded the Radio Nature League, an association requiring no dues and asking only that listeners “assist” in wildlife preservation through actions like feeding birds during the winter. Within three weeks of announcement of the League, Burgess had received over five thousand letters, from individuals and entire families in thirty-nine states, Canada, England, and Bermuda, all pledging (per the League's motto) “to do everything possible to preserve and conserve all desirable American Wild Life, including birds, animals, flowers, trees, and other living things; also the natural beauty spots and scenic wonders of all America.” By May over sixteen thousand people had enrolled as members.

Keywords: Thornton W. Burgess; radio; science popularization; conservation; bird refuge

Chapter.  7105 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Media Studies

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