“The American System”: Herbert Hoover, the Associative State, and Broadcast Commercialism


John Mark Dempsey is Associate Professor of Radio-Television at Texas A&M University-Commerce and the author or editor of four books, including The Jack Ruby Trial Revisited and The Light Crust Doughboys are on the Air!
Eric Gruver teaches history at Texas A&M University-Commerce. He has presented numerous papers on Texas and Southern agriculture during the Great Depression.


Despite Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover's expressed opposition to broadcast advertising, radio went commercial on Hoover's watch. In our view, Hoover was sincere in his opposition to advertising and did not covertly direct broadcasting toward its adoption. But Hoover's belief in the associative state, in which businesses cooperate with each other and with government through self-governing organizations to create “desired outcomes for society,” resulted in a passive drift toward acceptance of a commercial system—the “American system”—of broadcasting.