Radiating Emergency: The Perils and Promise of the Broadcast Signal in the Atomic Age
This essay argues that the development of CONELRAD marked a pivotal—and often overlooked—moment in the history of media and communications in the United States. As the nation's first coast-to-coast emergency broadcast system, CONELRAD established a new paradigm of networked
communications for a new world order. Through close critical examination of the institutional events and discursive controversies surrounding CONELRAD's development, I show how those events and controversies were inflected by both contemporaneous atomic anxieties and older hopes and fears
associated with over-the-air communications. I also suggest how they articulated, in the domain of electronic mass media, the politico-legal theory and practice of the state of exception.