Winter’s Ahead … Grab a Book!
Here’s a rapid roundup of recent and relevant
“Audio Engineering 101: A
Beginner’s Guide to Music Production” — Timothy A.
Dittmar makes this topic accessible with friendly text and cartoons. Inside: Characteristics
of sound, how the ear works, basics of microphones and mixing consoles, signal
flow and other useful stuff for the newbie looking to understand audio
concepts. Keep in mind that he means it when he says “for beginners.” It’s not
for someone who has experience working in audio. Paperback and Kindle, published
by Focal Press in 2011.
“Lee de Forest: King of Radio,
Television and Film” — Author Mike Adams, a media
professor at San Jose State University, knows radio and film; he brings those
worlds together in his discussion of de Forest, including the inventor’s role
in the film industry. This is a well-documented history book that media and technology
history fans will appreciate. Paperback or Kindle. Published late last year by
Springer Science+Business Media.
“Hitler’s Radio War”
— Roger Tidy writes about Nazi international broadcasting before and during the
war. He takes on a broad range of topics like “Becoming Lord Haw-Haw” and
“Wooing America by Short-Wave Radio.” These are covered mostly in “thumbnail”
chapters of six to 10 pages, so the book is more of a quick introduction to the
topic than a deep dive. Hardback, published by Robert Hale.
If you are already well familiar with the
topic of Nazi radio propaganda but want more details, you might better enjoy …
“Axis Sally: The American Voice
of Nazi Germany” — This book was published by
Casemate in 2010; it also is on Kindle and, just this fall, in paperback. Richard
Lucas is a shortwave radio enthusiast and freelance writer interested in the
use of radio in propaganda. His book is about Mildred Gillars, American-born
mouthpiece for Hitler. He writes that it is “not intended to be an apologia for a convicted traitor” but
rather aims to “portray a life lived on ‘the wrong side of history’ with
compassion and insight.”
“The Right Frequency”
— Fred V. Lucas subtitles his book “the story of the talk radio giants who
shook up the political and media establishment.” As Martha Zoller states in her
introduction, Lucas seeks to trace the history of talk radio as a mover of
conservative thought. The book is a light breezy read, no heavy lifting here; but
if you are interested in how Rush Limbaugh “saved the AM dial” and about radio
talkers who came before and after him — Kaltenborn, Couglin, Hargis, Grant,
Dobson, Boortz, Liddy, Reagan, Hannity, Bennett, Beck — this is for you. Paperback
and Kindle, published 2012 by History Publishing Co.
“Network Radio Ratings, 1932–1953”
— Talk about a specialty topic! Jim Ramsburg offers “a history of prime-time
programs through the ratings of Nielsen, Crossley and Hooper.” He spent many
years in radio and sales and is a member of the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of
Fame. He has written a reference book for the true believer in radio’s golden
age. It features essays, taking one year at a time, about each network season, and
actual year-by-year monthly and annual ratings for prime-time shows. Do you
want to know how “Mr. Keen” did in September of 1943? It’s in there. The book
is pricy at $65; but of all the books I mention today, this is the one I most
find myself flipping through, the one most likely to stay on your shelf for
that mid-winter history argument over bourbon about whether Burns & Allen
pulled more Friday night listeners than their CBS pals Amos & Andy in
1938–39 Paperback, published by McFarland.
and Gracie smoked ’em.)