Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hello Everybody! The Dawn Of American Radio

It's that time of year once again when I'm getting ready to head cross country from New York to Arizona for the winter. One of the things I do is stockpile a bunch of books to read through the season. At the top of the radio reading list this year is a book entitled "Hello Everybody! The Dawn of American Radio", by Anthony Rudel. It is the story of the diverse entrepreneurial pioneers of radio, covering the era from 1912 through the 1920s and 1930s. Touching lightly on the technical aspects and inventors of radio, Rudel emphasizes the entrepreneurs and evangelists, hucksters and opportunists who saw the medium's true potential.

From Rudel's website:

"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."

It arrived yesterday and it promises to be a great read. Available from and other booksellers. Published in 2008.

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