1927 March 14

Jazz on Sunday Night Radio Labelled “Degrading”


The head of the New York City Keep-the-Air-Clean-Sunday Society objected to radio station WMCA’s playing of jazz music on Sunday nights, charging that it was “degrading” and “defaming.” In response, listeners flooded the station with letters stating they had no objection to the one-hour program from 6 to 7 p.m. on Sundays. The Federal Radio Inspector for the New York District explained that he had no power to censor the content of radio programs, but that he was referring the matter to the newly created Federal Radio Commission.

In the 1920s and 1930s, many self-appointed guardians of public morals condemned this new music called “jazz.” The attacks were prompted by the rhythms that moralists feared would lead people to immoral behavior, and also because jazz was primarily an African-American music. In the 1950s and 1960s, the self-appointed guardians of public morals had the same objections to the new music “rock and roll.”

Learn more: Eric Nuzum, Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America (2001) [See especially the decade-by-decade chronology of music censorship in the Appendix]

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