This paper examines how early media reform work evolved from political activism into a system-building advocacy campaign in support of Schools of the Air between 1930 and 1940. Calling upon archival work that focuses on 1935–1940 records, it examines how prominent activist groups the National Committee for Education by Radio (NCER) and the National Advisory Council for Radio in Education (NACRE) shifted their strategic approaches to adjust to the “public interest” mandate of the Communications Act of 1934. Though scholarship has chronicled disagreements between the NCER and NACRE over how to best support educational broadcasting, a dialectical interplay emerged after the act during the New Deal due to the influence of the Federal Radio Education Committee (FREC). FREC inspired A.G. Crane of the NCER to build the Rocky Mountain Radio Council (RMRC). The RMRC was the first sustainable educational media network, and the group coined the term public broadcasting . While the Communications Act signaled the end of the first wave of media activism, the policy also inspired reformers to develop a new system-building strategy that set the groundwork for NPR and PBS.