At the beginning of the decade, Big Bands dominated popular music. Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman led some of the more famous bands. Rythm and Blues grew out of the big band era toward the end of the decade. During 1935-45, swing was the popular music of the time and new stars seemed to emerge on a weekly basis. The biggest problem was the beginning of World War II. When the United States entered the war, many swing musicians were drafted (Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw were among many who entered the service), and it became more difficult (with gas rationing) for orchestras to travel. With the rise of the pop singer, many clubs preferred to hire combos, and a ruinous entertainment tax discouraged establishments from having dance floors, thus leading to the fall of the swing era. In 1946, many of the big bands broke up.
Radio was the lifeline for Americans in the 1940's, providing news, music and entertainment. Programming included soap operas, quiz shows, children's hours, mystery stories, fine drama, and sports.