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The Great American Broadcast: A Celebration of Radio's Golden Age Hardcover – October 1, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Maltin, best known for his movie reviews on Entertainment Tonight, turns a critical ear to radio's finest days: from the 1920s through the 1950s.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A broad and glossy, but thoroughly entertaining tour of old- time radio. Though radio is becoming an increasingly segmented stopgap to fill the silences television cannot reach, there was a time when it was a unifying agent, as powerful a mass-cultural force as perhaps America has ever seen. This period, from the early 1920s to the mid-1950s, truly was the ``golden age'' of radio. Film authority Maltin, a regular on Entertainment Tonight, has a sharp eye for telling details, revealing anecdotes--and is never in such a hurry he can't stop for an amusing digression or aside. While his subject is enormous, he provides enough range and breadth of information to make any reader sound knowledgeable at a cocktail party (although he doesn't discuss the advent of FM radio). Actors, directors, sponsors, musicians, sound effects, and more all get their own tidbit-filled chapters. Radio began as a substitute for telegraphy, a way, most notably, for ships at sea to communicate with shore. But others began tuning in, the price of sets came down, and soon the idea of creating regular programming took hold. Maltin ably captures the excitement and seat-of-the-pants style of early radio, when almost everything was live, leaving little room for mistakes. Though there was enormous room for creativity and innovation, sponsors quickly came to exert substantial influence over the shows aired under their aegis (no mention allowed, for example, of the word ``lucky'' on shows sponsored by a tobacco brand other than Lucky Strikes). After WW II, as television--and its unremitting literalism--became an increasingly serious challenge, live shows were replaced by tape, more stars were trotted out, and audience segmentation increased, but nothing could stem radio's slide from the popular consciousness into background noise. A warm, engaging valentine to a bygone art form and era. (130 b&w photos) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First edition (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525941835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525941835
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1.3 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #590,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Leonard Maltin is a respected film critic and historian, perhaps best known for his annual paperback reference Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, which was first published in 1969. He lives with his wife and daughter in Los Angeles and teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
86%
4 star
7%
3 star
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1 star
7%
See all 14 customer reviews
This book is great for OTR fans.
Robert
She actually called me today to express her gratitude for all the memories and people this book brought back to her.
A. Cohen
I got the encyclopedia of old time radio and it is great, but it is primarily facts about each show.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jeff B Sultanof on March 22, 1998
Format: Hardcover
When Leonard Maltin writes on a subject, it betrays his love for that subject, and it is well researched. There have been a number of books on the history of radio, but this one is derived from interviews that Maltin did himself, sometimes before it was too late. My only problem with this book is the lack of a bibliography; since Maltin does draw from books written during radio's heyday, it would have been nice to have information on them. Regardless, if you have any interest in radio, this is a book you will thoroughly enjoy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. O'Kane on April 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Great American Broadcast is Leonard Maltins insightful and affectionate look at the zenith of American radio. Maltins love of the medium is as great and possibly greater than his love of movies,if thats possible, and this is transmitted in every line of this well researched tome. Interviews with the radio stars, producers, writers and technicians of the time bring to life the magic of this era and apart from a cracking good read it will also serve as an excellent reference tool. I found the book engrossing and regretted having to finish it at all. Thanks to the internet Old Time Radio is flourishing and listeners will have their listening pleasure enriched for having read this book. Unlike most modern media commentators Maltin has never lost his little boy at the Saturday matinee enthusiasm for movies and, it seems, for radio as well. All radio lovers should have this title on their shelves.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jerry McDaniel on February 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
i was surprised that Leonard Maltin was so "nice" in this book. i'm used to him complaining about some obscure fact or something the typical fan wouldn't notice or care to notice. a critic's best friend is theirself. only they and they alone hold the answers as to why they like or hate something. they aren't gods...a critic shouldn't make a person like or hate something. it's just an opinion of a movie or CD, it's up to the consumer to agree or disagree with the critic. that being said, i agree with what's said in this book. for once, Leonard lets OTHER people tell the story...he doesn't appear as a "critic" to me in this book and that's good. the book is divided into segments like "announcers"; "sound effects"; "sponsors"; "radio acting"; etc. Maltin relies on plenty of anecdotes, which elevates this above his run of the mill "critic" books and by doing this it makes the book focus on it's subject matter and not the author's reputation as a tough critic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the book I was hoping for! I got the encyclopedia of old time radio and it is great, but it is primarily facts about each show. This book takes a narrative view of each aspect of radio including: actors, sound men, directors, sponsors, etc. Very interesting and you get a great feel for the era. I am a big fan of old time radio (there are great apps available to listen on your smartphone) and this book brings all of the shows to life. I have a much better understanding of how the shows work which enhances my listening to shows.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Cohen on August 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
Given that Maltin has been steeeeped in movies for so many decades....this is a great read. Got this for my mom. She spent 5 years in radio's heyday back in the 30's, before becoming a WAVE in WWII. She actually called me today to express her gratitude for all the memories and people this book brought back to her. She loved the facts behind the facts / people as well.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steve Sugarek on July 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fascinating look at the Golden Age of Radio. Maltin does a good job of covering the Hollywood, Chicago, and New York end of things, but scarcely mentions Rural markets. It gets four stars due to the omission of Border Radio, and a complete miss on not even mentioning the longest running radio show in history--the Grand Ole Opry!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By dcjenn on April 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books I have read about the golden age of radio, I missed the age of radio but do have a big collection of Old Time Radio shows. I would say to anyone interested in OTR to read this book.
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