Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio

As my presentation on radio technology was longer than I had expected, we didn’t have time to watch the Ken Burns documentary Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio (1991). You can watch this on your own in one of the following ways:

Or if you can read the book by Tom Lewis on which the film is based.

If you watch it, here’s a few things to note:

  1. You should only watch the first half of the film, just before radio moves from point-to-point communication to “broadcasting”
  2. Norman Corwin was a famous writer of radio programs, many during the so-called Golden Age of Radio.
  3. Susan Douglas wrote Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination and Eric Barnouw wrote on all broadcast media, including radio, but is best known for Tube of Plenty tome on television.
  4. Common synonyms for radio include “wireless,” “crystal set,” and “radio telephone.” 
  5. The song about radio at the end of the first part was one that was taking advantage of the radio craze in the 1920s. Honestly, will you be able to “love her” by radio?

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