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Radio Books Make Great Presents

Looking to stuff a stocking? Here are three titles you might consider

From ‘Seattle Radio’ by John Schneider: KIRO Chief Engineer James B. Hatfield shows one of the water-cooled tubes in the station’s new transmitter to Doris Klemkaski, the University of Washington ‘Queen of Queens,’ standing, and Warner Bros. starlet Ella Raines at a dedication in 1941. Photo courtesy of Hatfield & Dawson. We haven’t visited my book shelf in a while! With the holidays coming, here are three titles that would make nice gifts.

Jerome S. Berg was the court administrator for the Massachusetts District Court system until his retirement; but his career in law is not why I mention him today.

Berg has been tuning into the radio shortwaves for more than five decades; and he helps contribute to the survival of shortwave listening as a member of the executive council of the North American Shortwave Association and chair of the Committee to Preserve Radio Verifications.

Berg has just authored his fourth and final book in a series about shortwave listening and broadcasting. “The Early Shortwave Stations: A Broadcasting History Through 1945” is published by McFarland.

The first in the set was “On the Short Waves, 1923–1945: Broadcast Listening in the Pioneer Days of Radio” and covered the early years of the medium. “Listening on the Short Waves, 1945 to Today” was about the listening culture, while “Broadcasting on the Short Waves, 1945 to Today” was a year-by-year account of stations on the air.

That third volume contained more comprehensive station information than the first had. So in this new book, Berg returns to the years 1923–1945 and applies the same year-by-year approach.

“Together, the two volumes present as full an account as there is of the shortwave broadcasting stations that were heard in the United States for nearly the entire period of the medium’s existence,” he writes in the preface, adding that all four books are from an American perspective.

Written in a straightforward chronological style, the book includes some great photos and plenty of fun QSL cards. Any shortwave enthusiast or radio history buff would enjoy it.

“The Early Shortwave Stations” is 340 pages and published in softcover; it retails for $45. Berg dedicated it in part to Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, another advocate of shortwave, whose byline has appeared in Radio World several times. Visit

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You may recall that I enjoy the “Images of America” series from Arcadia Publishing. Each book takes a topic in American history, often a very local one, and explores it through a series of wonderful archival photographs. Your hometown or neighborhood may very well be the subject of one of these books.

The series includes several about radio in various cities. The latest is “Seattle Radio,” written by John F. Schneider, whose own collection of historical radio photos has often been featured in Radio World and who authored an earlier book for Arcadia about radio in the Bay Area.

Schneider for many years worked in radio equipment sales in the Northwest and was chair of the SBE chapter there for a time. He acknowledges the challenge of trying to tell the story of “the thousands of important people and events that passed in front of the Puget Sound microphones during almost 90 years.”

But he does a super job, and a reader can easily sense the love behind his labor. Here you’ll enjoy photos of AM stations KING and KVI; of Vincent Kraft and Larry Nelson; of the Cobb Building and the Northern Life Tower; and of Roy Olmstead, “King of the Puget Sound Bootleggers.” The engineering profession is well represented, as in a great shot of the KOMO-KJR transmitter staff, where we see a dozen men in suit and ties standing stiffly outside of their facility, and another of James B. Hatfield out on a boat on the open water measuring the signal strength of KIRO(AM).

“Seattle Radio” is from Arcadia Publishing and retails for $21.99. Find it online, at a bookstore or

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And from prolific publisher Focal Press is a book that came out a year and a half ago but is plenty relevant: “Recording Studio Design, Third Edition” by Philip Newell. The author is a consultant on acoustic design and was technical director of Virgin Records.

In this hefty softcover he covers key principles of successful studio construction, starting with general requirements and common errors. How to approach sound isolation? How much space will you need, how much height, how much floor loading capacity? Then it’s on to sound, decibels and hearing; room acoustics; designing “neutral” rooms and rooms with characteristic acoustics; operational considerations; the studio environment; loudspeaker considerations; control rooms; and numerous other practical audio-related topics.

This is essentially a textbook, illustrated with plenty of technical diagrams yet not overly esoteric. Its precepts will serve anyone who must build a studio in which audio quality is a concern, whether that’s for broadcasting, video/film or music-making.

“Recording Studio Design” from Focal Press retails for $89.95. Visit