Amos 'n' Andy Illustrated

Images of the Characters, their Creators, and their World

With its nightly listening audience estimated at more than 40,000,000 people during the early months of 1930, the popularity  of "Amos 'n' Andy" caused serious problems for theatre owners on the East Coast, with the 7 pm air time coinciding with the usual start time for the first evening movie shows. A Washington DC theatre owner is believed to have been the first to hit upon the idea of delaying the start of his show fifteen minutes, and presenting "Amos 'n' Andy" for his audience by means of a radio placed on the theatre stage. This idea quickly caught on, and by February of 1930 it was common to find theatres promoting "Amos 'n' Andy" above even their feature pictures -- as in this front-page advertisement from the 2/22/30 issue of the Dover (Maryland) Journal. The widespread advertising of the broadcasts as a theatre attraction caught the attention of NBC's Legal Department, which threatened theatre managers with legal action, arguing that to charge admission to hear a free broadcast amounted to copyright infringement. Overt advertising of the broadcasts by theatres was less common after these threats, but there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the practice itself continued into 1931 in some locations.

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