The Dawn of American Radio
By Anthony Rudel
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151012756, 416pp.)
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
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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.
ANTHONY RUDEL has spent his professional life in radio, including ten years on the air, as well as stints as vice president of programming for WQXR in New York and SW Radio Networks. The author of the novel Imagining Don Giovanni and two books on classical music, he now consults for radio stations across the country and lives in Chappaqua, New York.