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On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio Hardcover – May 7, 1998
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Some 1,500 radio shows, listed in alphabetical order, are described in concise articles linked with an extensive system of cross-referencing. The cross-referencing is crucial, because someone looking for Ozzie and Harriet or Sam Spade will need to know that both programs are listed in the main part of the text under The Adventures of.... The articles vary in length, from the briefest of paragraphs (The Billie Burke Show and Linda's First Love) to several pages (The Lone Ranger and The Mercury Theater of the Air). Each program entry consists of title and broadcast history (including exact starting and ending dates, day and timeslot, network, announcer, sponsor, etc.). This is followed by an essay that often imparts all manner of detail, or, in the case of those short entries, a capsule description of the program.
Although the majority of the articles are about individual programs, there are also a number of survey articles, such as sports broadcasts, concert broadcasts, and news broadcasts. Here, too, the cross-referencing is essential in order to find information about a specific program that might fall under one of those categories and is not listed separately. There is an extensive bibliography, which will be of great help to those wishing to pursue the subject further.
In the electronically connected world of today, it is hard to imagine a time (not so long ago) when there was but one medium of electronic information. The rich detail in this solid work helps convey the flavor of that earlier time. Devotees of classic television shows may be surprised to find out that such programs as Father Knows Best, Our Miss Brooks, Queen for a Day, and Sky-King all started as radio programs. A worthy addition to most reference collections, this volume is an interesting portrait of a time when radio was more than background music or xenophobic talk shows. Another recent publication, the Historical Dictionary of American Radio [RBB Ag 98], covers a wider range of topics related to radio but has far less coverage of individual programs.
Top Customer Reviews
Building from his earlier work, Tune in Yesterday, John Dunning (a long-time fan of radio himself) has written the encyclopedia of radio. I didn't have my copy for a long time and had no idea what I was missing. You'll not only be graced with full schedules and showtimes, but also the history of each show, sometimes with memorable quotes from favorite episodes.
The index alone is worth the price of the book, with actors cross-referenced to shows you didn't even know they appeared in. The bold page numbers steer the reader to the featured articles, but reading all the related articles is fun, too. Heck, even just browsing can while away hours of your time, as each show entry will remind you of another that you just have to look up. While looking up one show, the eye crosses the title of another on the page heading and, bang, you're away and have forgotten what you took the book down off the shelf for to begin with. In this way, you'll learn the names of favorite character actors whose voices you recognize from different shows, but whose name escape your memory (Frank Lovejoy and Elliott Lewis leap to my mind). Then, you can look them up in the index and discover more of their work for you to seek out.
Of course, even with a book this size, not all of the shows are going to have exhaustive articles, but Dunning has done as much as one man possibly can.Read more ›
Sooner or later, every OTR fan is going to want to have this book. It is an exhaustive reference on almost every show with great background stories to keep you entertained for weeks. It is expensive but it is the best.
The 1500 entries detail the broadcast history of each show (including dates, times, network, and sponsors), cast members major and minor, announcers, musicians and singers, producers and directors, sound effects technicians, and more.
Shows of special significance, such as "Gunsmoke" (1952-61) are treated in extensive essays describing their history and development, with background information derived from numerous interviews and meticulous research. There are also special categories, or "umbrella entries", covering concert, news, and religious shows, and the remote broadcasts of the great bands, such as Glenn Miller and Woody Herman. For hardcore radio buffs and collectors information on the availability of tapes of old shows will be a special treat. With its fine bibliography and generous index, Dunning's work is a first rate production, essential for anyone interested in old time radio.
(The "score" rating is an unfortunately ineradicable feature of the page. This reviewer does not "score" books.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent resource and reference book which is also an interesting read. If interested in Golden Age radio this book is a must have.Published 1 month ago by Arlene N. Gabriele
Item delivered on time, was as described and Great customer servicePublished 12 months ago by Van Kennell
I love this book. Order came earlier than expected. I am currently reading this book and listening to shows as I go along. Very happy with my brand new, obviously unused book. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kitty
If you are a fan of old-time radio, this is the book for you. It contains the background story of just about all of the old radio shows.Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
If you want to know about a show from the golden age of radio, this book has it. In a little over 800 pages, John Dunning covers 1500 radio shows from the famous, like The Shadow... Read morePublished 18 months ago by A. Silverstone
I used a previous version of this book. I am a huge otr fan. Very imformative.Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer