Stars for Defense

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Stars for Defense

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"Stars for Defense” was a radio program that ran in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Produced by the U.S. government, it combined popular music with information on what listeners could do to survive a nuclear war. The show figured prominently in the U.S. government’s campaign to promote civil defense. Ultimately, however, neither “Stars for Defense” nor the civil defense program in general were able to win the interest of the American public. Today, “Stars for Defense” has been nearly forgotten, going virtually unmentioned in every major work on the subject of civil defense. In my effort to shed light on “Stars for Defense,” I took advantage of three remarkable resources: rare original vinyl transcriptions of the program; personal interviews with singers who appeared on the show; and the vast collection of documents available at the National Archives. After piecing together the mechanics of the program and analyzing the rhetoric of its content, I argue that the failure of “Stars for Defense” to sway the American public’s opinions on civil defense can be traced to its failure to resolve the two major tensions at its core: that between the cheery music segments and the bleak civil defense messages, and that between the show’s embedded commercialism and its ostensible service to the public interest"


Additional contributors: Mary Vavrus (faculty mentor)

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Ringstad, Arnold. (2011). Stars for Defense. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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