Union Radio Fades from the Airwaves

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Members of labor unions hold a rally in support of the planned 'Access to the Region's Core' (ARC) rail tunnel between New Jersey and New York City, October 19, 2010.
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Over the weekend, workers at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant voted against joining the United Auto Workers union—a move that was seen as a devastating blow for the future of organized labor.

And as the push for collective labor grows weaker nationwide, union radio, a historic mouthpiece for the movement, is also failing to attract listeners.

See Also: A Nail in the Coffin for Organized Labor?

But it didn't always used to be this way. Labor newscasts hit airwaves in the 1930s and grew in popularity into their peak in the late 1960s.

During the heyday of American unions, there were more than 250 programs produced or funded by labor unions.

Labor newscasts were intended for union members and the general public alike, and ads were distributed across stations nationwide.

Joining The Takeaway to explain the history of a now lesser-known news source is Elizabeth Fones-Wolf, history professor at West Virginia University and author of “Waves of Opposition: Labor and the Struggle for Democratic Radio, 1933-1958.”

For the dozen or so union radio programs that have survived the decades, the newscasts have taken a decidedly modern turn.

The Union Edge is the only nationally syndicated labor program remaining, and The Takeaway is joined by its co-host and executive producer Angela Baughman. Angela is also a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 5.