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Hello, Everybody!: The Dawn of American Radio Hardcover – October 6, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Novelist and classical music expert Rudel (Imagining Don Giovanni), who has an extensive background in radio broadcasting, offers a lively overview of the birth of radio with an emphasis on the entrepreneurs and evangelists, hucksters and opportunists who saw the medium's potential. He traces the transition from hobbyists to the radio craze of 1922 when Americans spent more than $60 million on home receivers that brought the sounds of urban life to rural areas. The first station west of the Rockies, KHJ, prompted the notorious sexual-rejuvenation surgeon John R. Brinkley to open KFKB in 1923 Kansas. By the end of the 1920s, the Federal Radio Commission was established to manage the airwaves, NBC and CBS competed and advertising increased. Along with political campaigns and sports broadcasts, Rudel covers the love/hate relationship of newspapers and radio stations. His chapter on the unholy marriage between radio and religion details the rise and fall of evangelist Sister Aimée Semple McPherson. Profiles reveal Rudy Vallee's vast appeal and important role in creating the radio variety show. With extensive newspaper research, this is an authoritative and entertaining survey of the early days of dial twisting. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


" ... a lively overview of the birth of radio with an emphasis on the entrepeneurs and evangelists, hucksters and opportunists who saw the medium''s potential ... an authoritative and entertaining survey of the early days of dial twisting." (Publishers Weekly)

"Rudel, with extensive professional radio experience, revels in the enterprising personalities who set up shop on this technological frontier ... Rudel vividly re-creates the anything-goes atmosphere of the ether's early days." (Booklist)

"Hello, Everybody! offers rich rewards. Written in a conversational style, it includes odd facts and eccentric people. Rudel goes back and forth comfortably from radio programming to the social upheavals of the 1920s and 1930s. As a story about the birth of broadcasting, it''s appropriately upbeat and optimistic." (San Francisco Chronicle)

" ... entertaining and informative ... lively ..." (The Denver Post)

"Rudel''s book is an enjoyable read, benefiting from the author''s extensive use of newspaper columns and a bibliography incorporating both web and print sources ... the book will appeal to pop culture enthusiasts and is recommended for all public libraries." (Library Journal)

"Turn down the television set and give Hello, Everybody! a look." (Mansfield News Journal)

"Rudel uses wide-ranging examples--the coverage of the Lindbergh baby''s kidnapping and America''s fascination with sports--to show how radio and the nation grew and navigated change together. It''s thoughtful reading, particularly as radio and the rest of the "old" media navigate today''s new media age." (Post and Courier (Charlotte))

" ... interesting ... this is a book I was hoping someone would write, and Anthony Rudel has done it." (Palm Beach Post)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (October 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015101275X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151012756
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #866,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Eric Mayforth on May 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Was radio the second-most important communication medium that came into widespread use in the twentieth century? Many would say that only television was second to the Internet in its revolutionary impact, but it was radio that inaugurated the age of real-time mass communications.

In "Hello, Everybody!", Anthony Rudel examines the history of radio from Marconi's first transmission in 1895 through the early 1930s. The author provides details about the amateurs who dabbled in radio as a hobby early in the 1900s and cites some little-known pre-1920 experiments in radio transmission.

Rudel examines the rapid growth of radio in the 1920s (even Presidents Harding and Coolidge became avid listeners), with the explosion in the number of radio stations, the formation of the CBS and NBC networks, and station frequency assignments.

The 1920 election returns, widely regarded as the first radio program, are mentioned, and the author talks about early radio programming in areas such as music, entertainment, sports, politics, religion, and agriculture. Rudel discusses some important early stations and important personalities such as Graham McNamee, Aimee Semple McPherson, and Father Coughlin that were heard then.

In Rudel's closing remarks, he states that "radio provided the formidable foundation for all of the electronic mass media that followed". Those who are fans of both radio and history will enjoy this look back at an important chapter in American social history.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Newton Ooi on August 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I often wish American schools would use regular books instead of textbooks for the teaching of history. The former are populated with thousands of great reads that cover just about any subject under the sun. This is one of them. This chronological study of the development of the radio business in America links together sports, politics, business, science, pop culture, mass entertainment and sociology into one amazing synthesis. By following key individuals within government, business, and among the masses, the author shows how radio turned from a novelty into a key feature of American society. Some of the people covered include presidents Hoover, Coolidge and FDR, sports greats Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey and Jack Tunney, religious figures such as Charles Coughlin, quacks such as Dr. John Brinkley, and others. The book shows how radio made some of them, broke some of the others, but affected them all. For a book on a technical subject, the amount of science is kept to a minimum as the focus is on the people who drove, or were driven by the business. Overall, a great and entertaining book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jim on February 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The past couple of years I've been reading nearly every "old time radio history" book I could find. They all tell about the same story with the same characters, and I thought I was about saturated.

"Hello, Everybody" is different. It has the IN DEPTH stories of major radio personalities (mostly performers, but also the "radio quack doctors" and evangelists) in an informal, narrative style. The other books I had read only scratched the surface of these interesting people.

I recommend "Hello, Everybody" as a follow-up to the other old time radio books, or even as an introduction to this fascinating subject.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Usni on June 27, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
The first chapter of the book completely threw me off. After finishing the book it's apparent why John Brinkley was featured so prominently as the first anecdote of the book but frankly the whole goat story threw me off.

I would've preferred he had done a more conventional first chapter (detailing the technology or the inventors of radio)and saved Brinkley and his goats for the second chapter after we had been settled in.

Obviously Brinkley was a huge character in the history of radio but it felt so out of place as the first chapter. It felt so off-topic and frankly kind of gross.

The rest of the book was great, a chronological recap of the rise of radio from it's humble origins to the mass communications device it would become. I was struck by three things:

1. How isolated people must've been without radio.

2. How radio was dismissed as a fad similar to how people dismiss websites like Twitter.

3. How there was no broadcast infrastructure before radio. There was newspapers but no reporters or crew to deal with a live broadcast. It made me realize that all the stuff we have today: 24hour cable news, sports broadcasts, show sponsors, the concept of breaking news and the practice listening/watching something at a specific hour M-F all originated from radio.

It is kinda nice to know that even back then people were crazy about getting the news as fast as possible.

It's a great book and highly recommended. It makes you appreciate all the technology we have now compared to back then.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. Nusbaum on June 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've always had a deep fascination with early mass media in America and had been reading a lot about early American Television. It seemed the next obvious progression in reading about this period would to continue back to the birth of the American Radio Industry in the book "Hello Everybody!: The Dawn of American Radio".

I couldn't help be reminded right away of the Woody Allen movie "Radio Days" with the first chapter of this book when it begins telling the story of Dr. Brinkley and KFKB of Milford, Kansas. At first I was curious where the author was going, but I realized just with the Woody Allen movie that what made radio was not only the shows and the technology, but the characters and stories that came with the medium.

Anthony Rudel does an absolutely masterful job in weaving the story of American radio with technical historical facts, characters that made the industry and perhaps a few tall tales. You begin to realize through the story how Radio really revolutionized the world and how it was the Internet of it's time. Truly a turning point in the history of the entire world (more so than television if you ask me).

This is a fantastic book and I couldn't recommend it enough for someone interested in history of communication and entertainment, or even a gift for a grandparent. I loved every second of reading this book.
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