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This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.

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by David Siegel and Jack French © 2010
(From Radio Recall, August 2010)

There are many books on OTR history, both those who cover a wide spectrum and those whose focus is narrow. Among the latter would be books that contain the history of broadcasting within one state. Although we have 50 states, only fifteen of them , thus far, have publications dedicated to radio within their borders. A brief summary of those fifteen follows:

Alabama's First Radio Stations :1920 - 1960
By Harry D. Butler
Alabama Broadcasters Assoc., 2006
Soft Cover, 262 pgs.

The book’s title accurately reflects its contents since it covers that 40 year period in radio and ignores television. The sixteen chapters are illustrated by a few photographs and several charts. Butler began in radio business at age 18 and devoted his entire adult life to broadcasting. His book is well researched with an emphasis on the early radio stations and how they progressed over the years. It even includes the very difficult 1920s “Announcer’s Test” to which all candidates for that role were subjected. The book’s only weakness is the absence of an index, which handicaps the reader somewhat.

Arkansas Airwaves by Roy Poindexter
Privately published, 1974
Hardback, 421 pgs.

This book is a very thorough history of the state’s broadcasting enterprises, beginning with its first radio station, WOK, which debuted in 1921. Written by an experienced radio personality and broadcasting teacher, it covers the subject from a chronological view, station by station. The book contains a few historical photographs and is well researched and written. One of its only limitations is the absence of an index.

Crystal Set to Satellite by Parke Blanton
California Broadcasters Assn.,1987
Soft Cover, 59 pgs.

Technically this is not a book; it’s a pamphlet. The number of advertisements in it (about one fourth of the total pages) would suggest this was a “freebie” passed out some event of the California Broadcasters Association. It claims it will cover “the first 80 years” of California’s radio history, but also admits that its “anecdotal record” may not always be accurate. Less than 10 % of the book deals with radio, the rest is about TV. Despite its limitations, it’s the only publication so far on California airwaves.

In the Public Interest
Edited by Linda Weintraut & Jane Nolan
Indiana Historical Society, 1999
Hardback with DJ, 318 pgs

Of all the books reviewed here, this is the largest, in both size and weight, as any reviewer picking it up will immediately notice. It consists of the states’ broadcast history explained by an examination of the biographies of persons active in radio and TV in this state. Editors Weintraut and Nolan, both of whom are oral radio historians, have collected these biographies from dozens of different writers. The book is well illustrated with many photographs, which stand out clearly on the glossy paper the publisher used. There is a good index at the end, as well as an appendix captioned “Indiana Radio Pioneers.”

Making Waves by Jeff Stein
WDG Communications, 2004
Hardback, 186 pgs.

Author Stein is a educator, lawyer,and teaches broadcasting and media law and he is affiliated with the Iowa Archives relating to broadcast history. This book covers all types of radio programming in Iowa, including farm news, sports, educational shows, etc. In addition to factual history, it also covers many personalities who got their start in this state, such as Andy Williams, Fran Allison, the Everly Brothers, and Tom Brokaw. Plenty of photographs adjoin the text a nd Stein’s Table of Contents is peppered with clever captions. The book also includes a CD of audio clips of Iowa people and places.

Towers Over Kentucky by Francis M. Nash
Kentucky Broadcasters Assn, 1995
Soft Cover, 384 pgs.

The author, a broadcaster who began his radio career in Grayson, KY, is also a college professor and a Christian minister. His book begins with the first licensed radio station in the state, WHAS in Louisville on July 18, 1922. He then relates the history of each station, in terms of ownership, programing, management, station strength, etc. The book contains several good illustrations distributed evenly between the two covers, following a chronological path. Nash even covers the story of Nathan B. Stubblefield, the Kentucky melon-farmer who may have invented radio. The book has a detailed index and is very highly recommended for anyone who wants to know more about broadcasting history in Kentucky.

History of Broadcasting in Maine
by Ellie Thompson
Maine Association of Broadcasters, 1990
Soft Cover, 112 pgs.

Beginning with WAV in Auburn, ME, this book lists the first 15 radio stations in the state. It contains plenty of good illustrations, mostly photographs, which compliment the text. It has no index but includes a detailed bibliography. Most of the chapters are ten pages each and the first ones are dedicated to one decade, i.e. 30s, 40s, 50s., etc. Overall, a good book, chock full of facts.

The History of Radio in Mississippi
by Bob McRaney, Sr.
Self-published, 1980
Hardback with DJ, 197 pgs.

This book contains 8 detailed chapters, most of which deal with radio but a few of the latter ones go into television. While it does not have a standard index, it does have an appendix, “Names of Persons,” which does permit the reader to locate anyone mentioned in the book. McRaney, a native of Mississippi, was born there in 1912 and by his 18th birthday, he was the house organist for a local movie theater. Like many musicians with that background, he later became a staff organist on radio. McRaney finished his radio career as a station general manager. His book has several excellent photographs scattered among the chapters.

Voices in the Big Sky by Howard C. McDonald
Big M Broadcasting Service, 1996
Soft Cover, 154 pgs.

This volume is packed with factual history and entertaining anecdotes. Examples: Kinsey, MT is the tiniest city in the U.S. to be granted a radio station license. Butte, MT has a radio tower that has the highest elevation in the nation. KGSX, Sidney, MT is the only U.S. radio station to be affiliated with the Canadian Broadcasting Company.

The author is a veteran announcer and station manager in MT who is also an excellent researcher and writer. He illustrates his text with occasional photos, cartoons, and graphics, but alas, he forgot to include an index for his readers.

Granite and Ether by Edward W. Brouder Jr.
New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters,1993
Soft Cover, 93 pgs.

This is a fine history of broadcasting in the Granite State, starting in 1922. Well illustrated, it covers both radio and television. While it lacks an index, it does have a good appendix. Author Brouder has produced a short book that is both carefully researched and well written. This is a very interesting read.

Voices on the Winds: Early Radio in Oklahoma
by Gene Allen
Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1993
Hardback with DJ, 109 pgs.

The author has a strong background in radio, beginning as a continuity writer for a local station in 1948. His history of Oklahoma broadcasting begins with the first station in January 1922 and then covers all of the Golden Age of Radio. Unlike many of these books, Allen sticks with radio so Oklahoma television is not within its pages. The fifteen chapters contain a modes t amount of photos and graphics to illustrate the well-researched text.

A History of Radio and Television in Oregon
by Ronald Kramer
Western States Museum of Broadcasting, 2009
Soft Cover, 466 pgs.

This book has, as its table of contents, not chapters, but headings. Most of these indicate the decade to be covered, i.e. “The 20s, The 30s.” The broadcasting history of this state is covered chronologically, with plenty of well researched material on individual stations. Radio comprises approximately three fourths of the book, with television getting the last quarter of its contents. Photographs and graphics, while not plentiful, are adequate to illustrate the text. A complete index allows the reader to find any name of interest.

Texas Signs On by Richard Schroeder
Texas A & M Univ Press,1998
Hardback with DJ, 247 pgs

OTR fans in the Southwest will not be surprised when they read in this book that the first broadcast in this state (1921) covered a University of Texas football game. The book contains plenty of good photographs and the text is well documented in its bibliography. While it does go into television of modern day, most of the book deals with the Golden Age of Radio. This book will do nothing to dispel the superiority that most Texans feel about anything within their borders.

Puget Sounds by David Richardson
Superior Publications,1981
Hardback with DJ, 192 pgs.

The author’s experience in radio spans two generations. H is mother was a continuity writer in radio while Richardson was a disk jockey in high school, then toiled as a radio engineer for AFRS, and later worked in radio and TV in the Pacific Northwest. His twelve factual chapters devote the first nine to radio and the last three to television. He has included many old, but clear, photos of radio history in his state, many of them portraying early broadcasting equipment. Finding any particular name in this book is easy as it contains both an index and an appendix.

Broadcasting in West Virginia
by Mrs. Martha Jane Becker & Mrs. Marilyn Fletcher
West Virginia Broadcasting Assoc., 1989
Soft Cover, spiral bound, 117 pages

This book is a strange duck, in its overview, contents, and binding. Instead of concentrating on the actual history of the state’s broadcasting, it focuses on the West Virginia Broadcasting Association. The text is supplanted with lots of statistics, illustrated with lists and charts. Radio occupies most of the pages but television gets its due also. About one fourth of this entire volume consists of reprints of West Virginia Review which are bound at the back of the book.

REVIEWERS’ FOOTNOTE: Nearly all of these books are out of print, but most of them are available through internet booksellers, including:


So you should be able to find the book covering your home state or current residence. But If the state you chose is not represented above, why not contact your state’s association of broadcasters and request they start on such a project. (“From little acorns....”)