Sunday, November 02, 2008

Five best books about the golden age of radio

At the Wall Street Journal, Anthony Rudel named a five best list of books about the "Golden Age of Radio."

One title on his list:
On the Air
by John Dunning
Oxford, 1998

John Dunning's "encyclopedia of old-time radio" is an invaluable resource about the performers, shows, sponsors, history and influence of the medium. We start alphabetically with "The A&P Gypsies" ("exotic music with a nomadic motif; one of radio's earliest, most distinctive programs") and end in "Zorro" country, finding along the way engagingly written entries that reflect a savviness about the shows themselves and their significance to audiences at the time. And Dunning is thorough: The entries include vital information about when and where shows were broadcast, who starred in them, who led the orchestra and other details that any radio fanatic will relish. Essays spread throughout this dense volume provide a commanding overview of the complexities of an entire industry at the height of its influence.
Read about another book on Rudel's list.

Anthony Rudel is the author of the newly released Hello, Everybody! The Dawn of American Radio.

About Hello, Everybody! The Dawn of American Radio:
Long before the internet, another young technology was transformed--with help from a colorful collection of eccentrics and visionaries--into a mass medium with the power to connect millions of people.

When amateur enthusiasts began sending fuzzy signals from their garages and rooftops, radio broadcasting was born. Sensing the medium's potential, snake-oil salesmen and preachers took to the air, at once setting early standards for radio programming and making bedlam of the airwaves. Into the chaos stepped a young secretary of commerce, Herbert Hoover, whose passion for organization guided the technology's growth. When a charismatic bandleader named Rudy Vallee created the first on-air variety show and America elected its first true radio president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, radio had arrived.

With clarity, humor, and an eye for outsized characters forgotten by polite history, Anthony Rudel tells the story of the boisterous years when radio took its place in the nation's living room and forever changed American politics, journalism, and entertainment.
Visit Anthony Rudel's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue