Friday, November 04, 2005

John Dunning's Radio Book

From Bill Crider:

On the Air -- John Dunning

On the Air is a massive (over 800 pages) encyclopedia of Old Time Radio. John Dunning discusses every show you've ever heard of, and a few you haven't. I was lucky to get this book at a huge discount, thanks to having seen a mention of the sale on Ivan Shreve's Thrilling Days of Yesteryear. Only 19 bucks, plus postage, which makes it the biggest bargain I've found this year.

Ed here:

I got a review copy of this when it first came out. I remember thumbing through it thinking how unfair that a master of fiction like John Dunning should be a master of non-fiction, too. Enormous doesn't begin to cover the range of what he does here.

It's difficult to recreate the age of radio shows for people born after the late Forties, difficult to make them understand that sitting in the living around the radio was as much of a family time as watching early TV was. Just as ritualized, just as much fun.

Bill mentions The Great Gildersleeve, which was also one of my favorites. With the exception of a dozen or so adventure shows--the usual ones, The Green Hornet, Suspense, Superman, Gene Autry, etc.--I liked comedies best because the really good ones created their own worlds so vividly that I carry them with me today. Gildersleeve's bluster; Jack Benny's ancient car; Fibber McGee's closet; Charlie McCarthy's lusty affection for women; and Tarzan--the movies couldn't afford to do any of the wilder Edgar Rice Burroughs novels because of budget constraints--the radio show didn't have that problem, the episodes filled with Leopard men and spires of lost civilizations and prehistoric beasts--and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon. I swear my body temp dropped five degrees everytime the sound guy hit the whipping winds of the Alaskan tundra.

If you want to know from radio, this is the book to get. Thanks, Bill, for reminding me again.


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