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For a jittery radio industry concerned about the future of American broadcasting in the early months after America's entry into World War II, William B. Lewis came as a godsend. As head of the Domestic Radio Division of the Office of Facts and Figures (OFF), and later the Office of War Information (OWI, June 1942), Lewis, a former vicepresident of CBS, reassured the industry that the commercial structure of American radio would remain unchanged. In his first meeting with network executives and radio sponsors and advertisers in January 1942, he outlined his pragmatic approach to radio's war effort. As he argued, “radio is valuable only because of the enormous audiences it has created.” During wartime, his government office planned to use radio's popularity without unnecessarily disrupting radio structure and schedule: “Let's not forget that radio is primarily an entertainment medium, and must continue to be if it is … to deliver the large audiences we want to reach.”


This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Prospects: An Annual Journal of American Cultural Studies. The version of record Horten, G. (1996). "Propaganda must be painless": Radio entertainment and government propaganda during World War II. Prospects: An Annual Journal of American Cultural Studies, 21, 373-395. is available online at:

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