Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Here are three worthy books from my library that are still available, often for pennies. They provide important background for any radio scholar. Please suggest other titles I should add to my library.

WHEELIN’ ON BEALE: How WDIA-Memphis Became the Nation’s First All-Black Radio Station and Created the Sound That Changed America
By Louis Cantor

This is the definitive source about the beginning of Black Radio in the US.  It is a first-hand account of WDIA, a pioneer of R&B music and a gathering place for urban politics, black teens, religious leaders and so much more. It vividly recalls an era when Black stations were fire bombed, suppressed and intimidated.

HAVE I GOT A SONG FOR YOU: The Bobby Dale Story
By Lou Waters

The title of this book should be Meet the Real Dr. Johnny Fever because Bobby Dale was the inspiration for Howard Hessman’s WKRP character.  Hessman and Dale worked together in San Francisco radio during the 1970s.

Author Lou Waters, once an anchor & reporter at CNN, worked with Bobby Dale in Top 40 radio in the 1960s.  Waters uses Dale’s story to chronicle the changes in music and society during an era when it seemed to change almost daily. This fascinating biography is perhaps the finest “DJ book" ever written.

AIR OF SALVATION: The Story of Christian Broadcasting
By Mark Ward

I estimate over 90% of the religious noncom radio stations in the US have Evangelical Christian programming.  It wasn’t always like this. Evangelical radio began as movement against Big Churches and Big Broadcasting – an inspiring American story.

Ward’s straight-ahead, impeccably researched narrative tells the inside story of Evangelical broadcasting’s rise.  Published in 1994, AIR OF SALVATION is about Christian Radio before fanatics and zealots took it over.

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