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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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Sold on Radio, 3rd Ed.
by Jim Cox
McFarland, 2013
illustrated, appendices,
bibliography, index, 322 pp.
ISBN-13 978-0-7864-7518-6
Paperback, $ 25
McFarland & Co. , Box 611 ,
Jefferson, NC 28640
800-253-2187 (order line)
Book review by Hank Ickes
(From Radio Recall, October 2013)

Something strange appears to have happened between the first publication of this book and this edition. More on that shortly. As Michael Hayde reported in his December 2008 review of the first edition, Jim Cox is well-known in the Old-Time Radio community for his prolific output on various aspects of the hobby. This 2013 paperback edition lists 12 of his titles on OTR. You'd think: he's done a lot of research over the years, so he probably has much to contribute on radio advertising.

In Part I of II, Cox guides the reader through a history of oral advertising from ancient Babylonia to the 21st Century. He covers both the actual "pitching" of wares by voice and how its effectiveness has been analyzed over time. And as before, Part II looks at the histories of firms and conglomerates which had a major impact on network radio (and occasionally TV) advertising over the years, offering examples of the commercials they aired. One appendix discusses 100 smaller advertisers; another looks at the impact that contests, testimonials, voiceovers, sound effects, premiums, and other refinements have had. And there's a glossary of terms specific to advertising on radio.

Anecdotes from people who were there give a more human face to what is nearly a textbook and a section on how writing for radio differs from print media offers useful examples. There's also a look at audience ratings services and practices to help de-mystify that arcane science (a comparison graph or table or two would help the reader keep those numbers straight).

Quibbles? Here's where I'm baffled about possible differences between the first edition which I didn't have access to at the time of writing, and this latest. Errors may have crept in which editors should have caught

- The 2013 edition omitted one service which was important to radio audience ratings in the latter 20th Century - The Pulse, Inc. Dr. Sydney Roslow began providing audience estimates called "The Pulse of New York" in 1941 , based on a personal interview roster-recall method he'd developed. By the early 1960s, "Pulse" was publishing reports in 250 radio markets around the country and was the dominant local radio audience measurement service. Eventually, though, the American Research Bureau carne to dominate the field, and Pulse went out of business in 1978. 1

- In the discussion of effective use of soundeffects he missed mentioning the famous Stan Freberg spot "draining" Lake Michigan and filling it with hot chocolate, plus other fun. You can find this on YouTube if you wish to enjoy it.

- He also left out mention of humorist Jean Shepherd's unsponsored "commercial" for Sweetheart soap over WOR in New York City which, while triggering unexpected product sales surges, also demonstrated to station management his effectiveness as a pitch man (and saved his job).

Nowhere else have I seen Patty, Maxene, and Laverne's family name spelled "Andrew": it's always been"Andrews" And why not include an internet link to some actual old ads? My recommendation - if you want a more-than-casual review of early radio advertising, check around for someone who has a copy and read that person's.


1. "TheAudience Measurement Business," from Ratings Analysis: The Theory and Practice of Audience Research. James G. Webster, Patricia F. Phalen, Lawrence W. Lichty (3rd. Ed., ISBN-13: 9780805854107, Publisher: Taylor & Francis, October 2005, also Pub. Date: 20051031 , by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, ISBN-10: 080585410X)


Hank Ickes' interest in Old-time Radio began as a child living in and near New York City when his father was an Associate Director at CBS Radio and WCBS. Visits to his father's "office" got him re-creating shows at home with siblings using castoff copies of scripts. He studied broadcasting and advertising at Syracuse University and worked at Cunningham & Walsh and Grey advertising agencies in New York.