Recommended Reading

Christopher H. Sterling
School of Media and Public Affairs
George Washington University

The literature on the history of radio and television is huge and growing. Briefly annotated here are only some of the more useful books about that history, focusing on titles published since 1990. But this listing is by no means complete and new books appear almost daily. Many of those included here, which vary in both their quality and intended readership, have extensive bibliographies of their own. Any good college library should have copies of many of these on its shelves—and some of them remain in print. (Be sure to consult our links page for useful and relevant websites.) Books are listed under one of the following sections:

  1. Reference Works
  2. Survey Histories
  3. Technology
  4. Broadcasting Business
  5. Programming
  6. Audiences and Receivers
  7. Policy and Regulation
  8. State and Regional Broadcasting
  9. Foreign and International Broadcasting
  10. Newer Electronic Media


For network radio or television program references, see under section 5, below.

  1. Brown, Les. Les Brown’s Encyclopedia of Television. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1992 (3rd. ed). While dated, this remains an excellent reference of people, technologies, companies, programs, assembled by the longtime New York Times broadcasting reporter.
  2. Godfrey, Donald G., and Frederic A. Leigh, eds. Historical Dictionary of American Radio. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998. Very useful reference with brief entries (generally a paragraph) ranging over programs, people, organizations, and topics with dozens of contributors.
  3. Newcomb, Horace, ed. Encyclopedia of Television. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004 (2nd ed, 4 vols). Extensive reference largely focused on people and programs, covering American and other English-language television systems. Entries often run on for pages.
  4. Siegel, Susan and David S. A Resource Guide to the Golden Age of Radio: Special Collections, Bibliography and the Internet. Yorktown Heights, NY: Book Hunter Press, 2006. Annotated guide to all three sources of information on radio up to about 1960.
  5. Sies, Luther F. Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920-1960. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008 (2nd ed., 2 vols). Individuals, programs, and stations in thousands of very brief (often just a line or two) entries.
  6. Slide, Anthony. The Television Industry: A Historical Dictionary. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1991. Useful and concise (paragraph or so) reference to people, companies, programs, events.
  7. Sterling, Christopher H., ed. Encyclopedia of Radio. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2003 (3 vols). Some 700 essays of varying length by hundreds of contributors on most aspects of American radio broadcasting, with some material on foreign systems as well.
  8. Electronic Media: A Guide to Trends in Broadcasting and Newer Technologies, 1920-1983. New York: Praeger, 1984. Several hundred historical tables and explanatory text on technology, stations and networks, advertising, programs, audiences, etc. Useful for the amount of information gathered in one place.



  1. Barnouw, Erik. A History of Broadcasting in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966, 1968, 1970 (three vols.). Classic and well-written narrative; the first two volumes take the story to 1953 and focus most on radio. This remains the best single source to 1970.
  2. Gomery, Douglas. A History of Broadcasting in the United States. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008. Broad survey covering companies, key people, programming, regulation, and audiences.
  3. Hilliard, Robert L., and Michael C. Keith. The Broadcast Century: A Biography of American Broadcasting. Stoneham, MA: Focal Press, 2006 (4rd ed.). An informal and illustrated history told in chronological fashion, with many contributed comments from important pioneering figures. Regularly updated.
  4. Sterling, Christopher H., and John M. Kittross. Stay Tuned: A History of American Broadcasting. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002 (3rd ed.). Standard history arranged by periods and then by topic. See its historical statistics appendix, descriptive glossary of technology, and the extensive bibliography.
  5. Watson, Mary Ann. Defining Visions: Television and the American Experience in the 20th Century. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008 (2nd ed.). Useful survey of how the medium has changed the country by an acknowledged authority.

Women and Minorities

  1. Halper, Donna L. Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2001. First attempt at an overall historical survey, from the wireless pioneers to the present.
  2. Bogle, Donald. Prime Time Blues: African Americans on Network Television. New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2001. The role of Blacks in prime-time programming.
  3. Keith, Michael C. Signals in the Air: Native Broadcasting in America. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1995. First book-length study of Native American radio (primarily) and television stations, most of them noncommercial operations.
  4. Mills, Kay. Changing Channels: The Civil Rights Case That Transformed Television. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004. The story of the long WLBT (Jackson, MI) case in the 1950s and 1960s where a license was not renewed amidst charges of racism.
  5. Sampson, Henry T. Swingin’ on the Ether Waves: A Chronological History of African Americans in Radio and Television Broadcasting, 1925-1955. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005 (2 vols). Extensive chronology of people and programs including many contemporary reports.
  6. Sies, Leora M., and Luther F. Sies. The Encyclopedia of Women in Radio, 1920-1960. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2003. Hundreds of often very brief entries on women at the network and local station level in America.
  7. Zook, Kristal Brent. I See Black People: The Rise and Fall of African American-Owned Television and Radio. New York: Nation Books, 2008. Profiles nearly a dozen key figures in black station ownership.


  1. Inglis, Andrew F. Behind the Tube: A History of Broadcasting Technology and Business. Stoneham, MA: Focal Press, 1990. Includes chapters on both AM and FM as well as television broadcasting, placing each against the larger context of industry development. Technology sections predominate and are stronger, though biased toward RCA.
  2. Sterling, Christopher J. and George Shiers. History of Telecommunications Technology: An Annotated Bibliography. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2000. Chapters 8 through 13 provide dozens of entries on radio, television, and related technologies. This is a useful guide to a century’s publications of all kinds.


  1. Aitken, Hugh G.J. Syntony and Spark: The Origins of Radio. New York: Wiley, 1976. Classic study of Clerk Maxwell, Hertz and Marconi and what they accomplished up to about 1900. Continued in next volume.
  2. The Continuous Wave: Technology and American Radio, 1900-1932. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985. Continues the story of wireless from author’s earlier book, focusing on American developments: Fessenden and the alternator, Elwell and the arc transmitter, de Forest and his Audion, radio and cables and the national interest, the development of RCA (three chapters), and the expansion of the business based on tube technology in the 1920s.
  3. Douglas, Susan J. Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899-1922. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987. Readable analysis of combination of technological innovation, institutional development, and both visions and business realities that led to the radio broadcasting business in the early 1920s. Chapters focus on Marconi as inventor-hero, the inventors’ struggles for technical distinction, wireless telegraphy in the Navy, the ups and downs of wireless as a business, the important role of amateur operators prior to World War I, initial radio regulation, the rise of military and corporate control, and the social construction of broadcasting.
  4. Howeth, L. S. History of Communications-Electronics in the United States Navy. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1963. Very important history of early wireless and radio into the 1930s with considerable comment on non-military developments. The Navy played a central role in early American radio.
  5. Lewis, Tom. Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. Well-written analysis of the lives and work of Howard Armstrong, Lee de Forest and RCA’s David Sarnoff, among others—the basis for a PBS documentary that’s worth seeing.
  6. Maclaurin, W. Rupert. Invention and Innovation in the Radio Industry. New York: Macmillan, 1949 (reprinted, Arno Press “History of Broadcasting,” 1971). Old but still important study offering critical analysis of the process and nature of radio inventions. A study of struggles, litigation, progress and failure of both individual inventors and industrial organizations. Includes chapters on FM and television.
  7. Mayes, Thorn L. Wireless Communication in the United States: The Early Development of American Radio Operating Companies. East Greenwich, RI: New England Wireless and Steam Museum, 1989. Sorts out the host of pre-World War I wireless companies in the U.S.
  8. Mott, Robert L. Radio Sound Effects: Who Did It, and How, in the Era of Live Broadcasting. Jefferson, NC: MacFarland, 1993. Written by a radio sound-effects authority, this unique history reviews the development of sound effects in radio drama and comedy programs.
  9. Sarkar, Tapan K., et al. History of Wireless. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006. Anthology of often very detailed papers on the innovation of wireless, focused on broadcasting.


  1. Abramson, Albert H. The History of Television: 1880-1941 and The History of Television: 1942-2000. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1987, 2003 (2 vols). One of the best technical histories of the medium’s development, emphasizing who developed what, including transmitters, receivers, and video recording.
  2. Zworykin: Pioneer of Television. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995. Best biography of the RCA television researcher who was a key inventor of electronic television.
  3. Burns, R. W. Television: An International History of the Formative Years. London: IEE, 1998. Definitive illustrated and comparative treatment of the story to about 1940 in Britain, Germany, the U.S. and elsewhere.
  4. Fisher, David E., and Marshall Jon Fisher. Tube: The Invention of Television. Washington: Counterpoint, 1996. Popular history of the men and inventions that led to modern television—has to be used with care as some of its details are incorrect.
  5. Godfrey, Donald G. The Father of Television: Philo T. Farnsworth. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2001. Best of the several biographies of another key pioneer in electronic television technology.



  1. Baeck, Steven, ed. CBS: The First 50 Years. Los Angeles: General Publishing, 1998. Largely made up of photos and related captions, covering both radio and television.
  2. Bergreen, Laurence. Look Now, Pay Later: The Rise of Network Broadcasting. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980. One of the few historical treatments of American broadcasting networks, both radio and television.
  3. Blevins, Dave. Television Networks: More Than 750 American and Canadian Broadcasters and Cable Networks. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006. A directory with brief paragraphs describing each one–most are cable services.
  4. Hilmes, Michele, ed. NBC: America’s Network. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. (Literature on networks is very limited–this is largely based on original studies.)
  5. MacDonald, J. Fred. One Nation under Television: The Rise and Decline of Network TV. New York: Pantheon, 1990. Survey history of the three traditional networks.
  6. Robinson, Marc. Brought to You in Living Color: 75 Years of Great Moments in Television and Radio from NBC. New York:ohn Wiley, 2002. Largely a photograph album with insightful captions and some text.
  7. Weinstein, David. The Forgotten Network: DuMont and the Birth of American Television. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004. Relates the initial “fourth network” from the 1940s to its demise in 1955.


  1. Archer, Gleason L. History of Radio to 1926 and Big Business and Radio New York: American Historical Society, 1938-39 (2 vols; reprinted by Arno Press “History of Broadcasting,” 1971). Largely concerned with business aspects and key network leaders, patent-based and related corporate rivalries, and the development of the networks (especially NBC) through the late 1930s.
  2. Cox, Jim. Sold on Radio: Advertisers in the Golden Age of Broadcasting. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008. Chapters about nearly 25 of the major national sponsors, with some information on the content of the ads as well as the network programs they supported.
  3. Douglas, Susan. Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination. New York: Times Books, 1999. Good overall survey history, focused on programs and listener reactions.
  4. Garay, Ronald. Gordon McLendon: The Maverick of Radio. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1992. Biography of an important innovator in radio–with his Liberty Network in the late 1940s and introduction of top-40 formula radio the next decade.
  5. Hilliard, Robert L., and Michael C. Keith. The Quieted Voice: The Rise and Demise of Localism in American Radio. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2005. The impact of ownership consolidation, deregulation and other factors in the decline of local content in commercial radio.
  6. Hilmes, Michele. Radio Voices: American Broadcasting, 1922-1952. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. Concentrating on what people heard rather than on the industry or technology, the author focuses on several key programs to illustrate the medium’s appeal and success,
  7. Jason Loviglio, eds. The Radio Reader. New York: Routledge, 2001. Extensive collection of original scholarly papers on the social and cultural impact of radio over the years.
  8. Keith, Michael C. Talking Radio: An Oral History of American Radio in the Television Age. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2000. Impressive editing job makes this readable despite about 100 contributors, providing a history of commercial radio since 1945.
  9. Smulyan, Susan. Selling Radio: The Commercialization of American Broadcasting 1920-1934. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994. Study of the policy battles over commercial support of radio (and later television) argues that what resulted–today’s commercial system–was by no means a sure thing in the early days.
  10. Sterling, Christopher H., and Michael C. Keith. Sounds of Change: A History of FM Broadcasting in America. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2008. First survey history of the “second” radio medium’s involved development, with much on programming.


  1. Barnouw, Erik. Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990 (2nd rev. ed.). Drawn from and expanding his three-volume history of broadcasting, this is a very readable account.
  2. Edgerton, Gary R. The Columbia History of American Television. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. Very good study by an acknowledged authority, focusing on network programming trends.
  3. Kisseloff, Jeff. The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1920-1961. New York: Viking, 1995. Well-edited melding of a host of interviews with pioneers great and small provides a good sense of the medium’s early development.
  4. Ritchie, Michael. Please Stand By: A Prehistory of Television. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1994. Informal history of the medium to 1948 and the inception of network service. Covers, technology, people, and early programming.

Educational/Public Broadcasting

  1. Biamchi, William. Schools of the Air: A History of Instructional Programs on Radio in the United States. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008. Onlymodern history of a movement dating back to the late 1920s.
  2. Blakely, Robert J. To Serve the Public Interest: Educational Broadcasting in the United States. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1979. Primarily television, and including the first decade of the then-new “public” system.
  3. Day, James. The Vanishing Vision: The Inside Story of Public Television. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. The story as seen by a long-time player in the field.
  4. Engleman, Ralph. Public Radio and Television in America: A Political History. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996. The role of government and foundations in the formation and funding of educational–later public–stations.
  5. McCauley, Michael P. NPR: The Trials and Triumphs of National Public Radio. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005. Useful survey of its first 35 years covering key people and programs from the Washington-based service.
  6. Stewart, David. The PBS Companion: A History of Public Television. New York: TV Books, 1999. The first three decades of national programming and operations.


Excludes the many books on particular programs or biographies of individual stars.

Radio Drama and Talk

  1. Blue, Howard. Words at War: World War II Era Radio Drama and the Postwar Broadcasting Industry Blacklist. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2002. Focuses on 17 radio dramatists and actors operated during the war and what it cost some of them in the red scare of the late 1940s and early 1950s. See also Everitt in section 8, below.
  2. Cox, Jim. The Great Radio Soap Operas. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1999. Descriptions of each major network program with cast and creative credits.
  3. The Great Radio Audience Participation Shows: Seventeen Programs from the 1940s and 1950s. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2001. A paragraph on each of them, helping to define the transition from traditional network radio to television.
  4. Radio Crime Fighters: Over 300 Programs from the Golden Age. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2002. Network and syndicated programs, described from a few paragraphs to several pages, with cast and creative credits.
  5. The Great Radio Sitcoms. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007. Twenty are described in short chapters and another 150 or more receive a paragraph plus credits.
  6. Radio Speakers: Narrators, News Junkies, Sports Jockeys, Tattletales, Tipsters, Toastmasters and Coffee Klatch Couples who Verbalized the Jargon of the Aural Ether from the 1920s to the 1980s. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007. Title sums up this useful reference source to a wide variety of radio talkers.
  7. Doerksen, Clifford J. American Babel: Rogue Radio Broadcasters of the Jazz Age. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005. Programs on independent (non-network) radio stations in the 1920s is the focus here–and some of them are pretty amazing.
  8. Erickson, Hal. Religious Radio and Television in the United States, 1921-1991. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1991. Provides some 400 entries on people and programs.
  9. Hilliard, Robert L. and Michael C. Keith. Dirty Discourse: Sex and Indecency in American Radio. Ames, IA: Blackwell, 2007 (updated ed.). Assesses the appeal and content of “shock jock” programming and some of its resulting legal problems. Includes transcript examples.
  10. Horten, Gerd. Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda During World War II. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. Two main parts: News, politics and propaganda; and radio entertainment and advertising from 1941 to 1945.
  11. Juhnke, Eric S. Quacks & Crusaders: The Fabulous Careers of John Brinkley, Norman Baker, and Harry Hoxsey. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002. Radio’s quack doctors and ranters are placed in useful context.
  12. Keith, Michael C., ed. Radio Cultures: The Sound Medium in American Life. New York: Peter Lang, 2008. Best recent survey of the many different types and impacts of radio, as seen by a variety of authorities.
  13. Lochte, Bob. Christian Radio: The Growth of a Mainstream Broadcasting Force. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006. Development of an increasingly popular form of radio is traced with numerous examples.
  14. MacDonald, J. Fred. Don’t Touch That Dial! Radio Programming in American Life, 1920-1960. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1979. A broad social history, focusing on network programs.
  15. Maltin, Leonard. The Great American Broadcast: A Celebration of Radio’s Golden Age. New York: Dutton, 1997. An affectionate and informal history of network radio’s great years into the early 1950s discussing programs, personalities, and behind-the-scenes developments.
  16. Melton, J. Gordon, et al., eds. Prime-Time Religion: an Encyclopedia of Religious Broadcasting. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 1997. Some 400 entries, most concerning specific on-air personalities, trace the development of radio and televised religious programs.
  17. Nachman, Gerald. Raised on Radio. New York: Pantheon, 1998. Wonderful nostalgia with fair bit of background information on key programs.
  18. Wertheim, Arthur Frank. Radio Comedy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. A pioneering book, this is the best analysis of the format over radio’s network history.

Radio Music

  1. Cox, Jim. Music Radio: The Great Performers and Programs of the 1920s through Early 1960s. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005. Good descriptions of important singers and their network program series over more than four decades.
  2. DeLong, Thomas A. The Mighty Music Box. Los Angeles: Amber Crest Books, 1980. A broad history of all types of music on the air from initial classical pioneers through the various d formats of the so-called golden years (into the 1950s).
  3. Eberly, Phillip K. Music in the Air: America’s Changing Tastes in Popular Music, 1920-1980. New York: Hastings House, 1982. Reviews both popular music trends and the central role of radio in spreading music’s popularity.
  4. Fisher, Marc. Something in the Air: Radio, Rock, and the Revolution That Shaped a Generation. New York: Random House, 2007. Combines memoir as a listener and considerable research on the changes in radio beginning in the 1950s as seen by the long-time Washington Post columnist.
  5. Fong-Torres, Ben. The Hits Just Keep on Coming: The History of Top 40 Radio. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books, 1998. Reviews the rise of the format and then its division into many sub-formats.

Radio Network Program Directories

  1. Dunning, John. On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Definitive descriptive directory of network and major syndicated programs from the 1920s into the 1960s, usually including full creative credits along with its lengthy discussion.
  2. Grams, Martin. Radio Drama: A Comprehensive Chronicle of American Network Programs, 1932-1962. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2000. Listed by title with brief description and full list of episodes. Very useful for those who collect recordings of golden age network programming.
  3. Shapiro, Mitchell E. Radio Network Prime Time Programming, 1926-1967. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2002. Rather than a directory, these volumes lay out the schedules for (in order of their appearance) NBC, Blue, CBS, Mutual, and ABC radio networks. Arranged by night of the week, and then by network, and then by year.
  4. Summers, Harrison B., comp. A Thirty-year History of Programs Carried on National Radio Networks in the United States, 1926-1956. Columbus: Ohio State University Department of Speech, 1958 (reprinted by Arno Press “History of Broadcasting,” 1971). Standard listing, arranged by year, of programs with times aired, ratings, etc.
  5. Terrace, Vincent. Radio Programs, 1920-1984: A Catalog of over 1800 Shows. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1998. Alphabetical directory with brief annotations. See also Dunning, above.


  1. Boddy, William. Fifties Television: The Industry and Its Critics. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990. Emphasizing the programming they carried, this reviews the rise and quick dominance of the networks in the black-and-white era of American TV.
  2. Hyatt, Wesley. Emmy Award Winning Nighttime Television Shows, 1948-2004. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006. Surveys more than 100 of the networks’ best programs in essays ranging from two to five pages.
  3. Moore, Varbara, et al. Prime-Time Television: A Concise History. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006. Just that–good survey of programming rather than a directory to specific programs. Arranged chronologically, showing patterns of program invention, imitation, and decline.
  4. Roman, James. From Daytime to Primetime: The History of American Television Programs. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2005. Chapters are arranged by program type and describe how each developed, was often imitated, and then gave way to something else. One of the more useful introductions to a complex topic.
  5. Stark, Steven D. Glued to the Set: The 60 Television Shows and Events That Made us Who We Are Today. New York: Free Press, 1997. Melds many types of programs (and news events) to provide a picture, by decades, of commercial network viewing.
  6. Timberg, Bernard M. Television Talk: A History of the TV Talk Show. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002. Best survey of the program type, which details the six cycles through which such programs have gone in TV history, and providing an appendix program directory.

Television Network Program Directories

  1. Brooks, Tim and Earle Marsh. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows, 1946-Present. New York: Ballantine, 2007 (9th ed.). Regularly-revised annotated guide to all the programs–well indexed. See also next entry.
  2. McNeil, Alex. Total Television: A Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present. New York: Penguin, 1997 (4th ed.). Good directory covering daytime as well as evening hours with one-paragraphprogram descriptions. Has not been updated since this edition, however.
  3. Shapiro, Mitchell. Television Network Programming. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1989-1992, 2009 (4 vols). Not a directory of programs, but rather provides detailed program schedules of the major broadcasting networks from 1948 to 2007. Arranged by day of the week, then network.
  4. Terrace, Vincent. Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 Through 2007. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008 (4 vols). More than 9,300 programs are detailed, most in a paragraph, in what is probably the most complete listing to date.

Broadcast Journalism

There are a host of memoirs and biographies of broadcast journalists which are not included here.

  1. Alan, Jeff. Anchoring America: The Changing Face of Network News. Chicago: Bonus Books, 2003. Brief biographies of the major network anchors from the 1940s into the early 2000s.
  2. Bliss, Edward Jr. Now the News: The Story of Broadcast Journalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. Still the only overall history, roughly the first third deals with radio. Author was a producer with CBS News.
  3. Brown, Robert J. Manipulating the Ether: The Power of Broadcast Radio in Thirties America. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1998. Franklin Roosevelt, War of the Worlds and Father Coughlin.
  4. Cloud, Stanley and Lynne Olson. The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1996. Well-written assessment of the legendary CBS radio and then television news team from the 1940s to the 1980s.
  5. Culbert, David Holbrook. News for Everyman: Radio and Foreign Affairs in Thirties America. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1976. Pioneering study of radio’s commentators and how their role developed.
  6. Fang, Irving. Those Radio Commentators! Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1977. Profiles of about a dozen key figures from the 1930s into the 1960s.
  7. Hosley, David H. As Good as Any: Foreign Correspondence on American Radio, 1930-1940. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1984. The growth of foreign reporting in the decade before World War II.
  8. Murray, Michael D. Encyclopedia of Television News. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1999. Handy reference to people and programs on the network level.


Most audience research books concern television, with a heavy emphasis on the impact of listening and watching on younger audience members.


  1. Berg, Jerome S. Listening on the Short Waves, 1945 to Today. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008. The whole hobby is laid out here, including listening, receivers, clubs, and the growing role of computers. See the author’s related book under section 10-B, below.
  2. Beville, Hugh Malcolm Jr. Audience Ratings: Radio, Television, and Cable. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1988 (2nd ed.). Best historical study of how different commercial ratings companies and their varied methods developed.
  3. Luke, Carmen. Constructing the Child Viewer: A History of the American Discourse on Television and Children, 1950-1980. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1990. Reviews the often hot debate about whether television was “good” or “bad” for children. See Pecora, below.
  4. Pecora, Norma, et al. Children and Television: Fifty Years of Research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007. Good survey of decades of academic research into just whether and if so, how much, television watching has impact on young audiences. See also, Luke, above.
  5. Webster, James G., et al. Ratings Analysis: The Theory and Practice of Audience Research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2006 (3rd ed.). Behind the scenes in modern commercial radio and television audience ratings, with some background.


  1. Bartlett, Richard A. The World of Ham Radio, 1901-1950: A Social History. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007. Reviews the role of amateur radio operators over a half century, including much on their equipment.
  2. Cones, Harold N., et al. Zenith Radio: 1919-1945. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 1997, 2003 (2 vols). Very solid history of the company’s operations as well as its receivers during radio’s first quarter-century. Well-illustrated in color.
  3. Douglas, Alan. Radio Manufacturers of the 1920s. Vestal, NY: Vestal Press, 1988-89 (3 vols). Combines brief text with reprinted contemporary advertising showing changing radio receiver styles over more than a decade.
  4. Matteson, Donald W. The Auto Radio: A Romantic Genealogy. Jackson, MI: Thornridge Publishing, 1987. Not an easy book to find, this is the only full-length history of the automobile radio.
  5. Ramirez, Ron with Michael Prosise, Philco Radio 1928-1942. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 1993. Details the receivers of a major manufacturer before World War II, most illustrated in color.
  6. Schiffer, Michael Brian. The Portable Radio in American Life. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1991. Valuable survey from the days of clunky tube receivers to modern transistor models, melding technology and the changing roles of radio in the lives of listeners.
  7. Wenaas, Eric P. Radiola: The Golden Age of RCA, 1919-1929. Chandler, AZ: Sonoran, 2007. Wonderful album of in-depth text with man photos and other illustrations concerning the first decade of commercial radio receivers.


  1. Husfloen, Kyle, ed. Antique Trader Radio & Television Price Guide. Iola, WI: Krause, 2005. Radio listings cover models from the 1920s through the 1950s, with special attention on the art deco designed Bakelite and Catalin models. Other listings include pricing and production background for televisions manufactured between the 1930s and 1970s.
  2. Johnson, David. Antique Radio Restoration Guide. Iola, WI: Krause, 1992. Instructional guide discusses through choosing the best radio to restore, troubleshooting and repairing the circuitry, and safety precautions when making repairs. Additional information includes sources for parts, information on common vacuum tubes, and a glossary of technical terms.
  3. Slusser, John, et al. Collector’s Guide to Antique Radios: Identification and Values. Paducah, KY: Collector Books, 2007 (7th ed.). Domplete description and over 600 color photos, this covers well over 5,000 models of radios. All listings and values have been revised to reflect today’s collecting market.
  4. Stein, Mark V. Machine Age to Jet Age: Radiomania’s Guide to Tabletop Radios. Baltimore: Radiomania, 1994-99 (3 vols). Documents, pictures and provides market values for collectible vintage table radios. Receivers are individually pictured, described and valued, and are organized by manufacturer and model number. Series ranges over 1933-62 period.


Many books in this subject area concern current regulation—included here are useful titles with an historical approach.

  1. Benjamin, Louise M. Freedom of the Air and the Public Interest: First Amendment Rights in Broadcasting to 1935. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2001. Careful analysis of the early years of defining what freedom meant to a government-licensed service.
  2. Bensman, Marvin R. The Beginning of Broadcast Regulation in the Twentieth Century. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2000. The story of legislation and administrative decision-making through 1927.
  3. Braun, Mark. AM Stereo and the FCC: Case Study of a Marketplace Shibboleth. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1994. Best analysis of the FCC-industry conflict over the setting of these standards and the impact of the commission’s 1982 “nondecision” allowing open standards.
  4. Brinson, Susan L. Personal and Public Interests: Frieda B. Hennock and the Federal Communications Commission. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002. The professional life and landmark educational television role of the first woman to serve as an FCC commissioner.
  5. The Red Scare, Politics, and the Federal Communications Commission, 1941-1960. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004. How anti-communist pressures impacted broadcast regulation over two decades.
  6. Einstein, Mara. Media Diversity: Economics, Ownership and the FCC. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2004. The sometimes complex story of the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules (1960-95) as a central example of government regulation of television economic interests and the programming process.
  7. Everitt, David. A Shadow of Red: Communism and the Blacklist in Radio and Television. Chicago: Ivan Dee, 2007. Bust recent account of the political blacklist that cost so many broadcast personnel their careers in the 1940s and 1950s. See also Blue, in section 5-A, above.
  8. Foust, James C. Big Voices of the Air: The Battle over Clear Channel Radio. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 2000. Not the radio station owner–this is a study of a long-lasting policy issue concerning high-powered AM stations, only finally resolved in the 1960s.
  9. Kahn, Frank J., ed. Documents of American Broadcasting. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1984 [4th ed.]. Dated but still valuable anthology of important policy materials–FCC decisions, laws, court cases, policy statements and the like.
  10. Opel, Andy. Micro Radio and the FCC: Media Activism and the Struggle over Broadcast Policy. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004. The fight over Low Power FM stations.
  11. Paglin, Max D., ed. A Legislative History of the Communications Act of 1934. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Includes committee hearings and floor debate.
  12. The Communications Act : A Legislative History of the Major Amendments, 1934-1996. Washington: Pike & Fischer, 1999. Continues the previous title with the important amendments such as Communication Satellite Act of 1962, Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, various cable legislation, and the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
  13. Slotten, Hugh R. Radio and Television Regulation: Broadcasting Technology in the United States, 1920-1960. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. Important set of six or seven case studies of how government (chiefly the FCC) dealt with changing broadcast technologies.
  14. Zarkin, Kimberly A., and Michael J. Zarkin. The Federal Communications Commission: Front Line in the Culture and Regulation Wars. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2006. Includes development and role of the FCC, important cases, biographies of commissioners, key Supreme Court decisions, and a chronology of regulatory events.


There are doubtless many more such books tracing stations in particular cities or areas. They are often supported by state broadcast associations, so don’t expect a critical view from such titles.

  1. Blanton, Parke. Crystal Set to Satellite: The Story of California Broadcasting–the First Eighty Years. Sacramento: California Broadcasters Assn., 1987.
  2. Brouder, Edward W., Jr. Granite and Ether: A Chronicle of New Hampshire Broadcasting. Bedford,: New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters, 1993.
  3. Doll, Bob. Sparks out of the Plowed Ground: The History of America’s Small Town Radio Stations. West Palm Beach FL: Streamline Press, 1996. Just that and one of the few books to deal with other than major market stations.
  4. Dorgan, Howard. The Airwaves of Zion: Radio and Religion in Appalachia. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993. Focuses on specific music and talk stations and their audience role.
  5. Jaker, Bill, et al. The Airways of New York: Illustrated Histories of 156 AM Stations in the Metropolitan Area, 1921-1996. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1998. Illustrated history of all of them, some well-known and still with use and others long gone and forgotten. Would that we had more books like this for other major markets!
  6. Murray, Michael D., and Donald G. Godfrey, eds. Television in America: Local Station History from Across the Nation. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1997. Twenty-two stations are detailed, divided by region of the country.
  7. Poindexter, Ray. Arkansas Airwaves. North Little Rock, AK: the author, 1974. Informal review of Little Rock and other stations.
  8. Richardson, David. Puget Sounds: A Nostalgic Review of Radio and TV in the Great Northwest. Seattle: Superior, 1981. A dozen chapters on as many Seattle area broadcast stations, well illustrated with photos.
  9. Schroeder, Richard. Texas Signs On: The Early Days of Radio and Television. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998. Illustrated history of the rise of radio and then television in the Lone Star state, relying heavily on interviews and original documents.


There are many books on radio and television in specific nations–listed here are some more general references that cover regions or the world over time.

Foreign Systems

  1. Boyd, Douglas A. Broadcasting in the Arab World: A Survey of the Electronic Media in the Middle East. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1999 (3rd ed.). Country-by-country survey of how radio and television developed.
  2. Briggs, Asa. History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom. London: Oxford University Press, 1961-1995 (5 vols). Definitive history of the BBC, both radio and television, to about 1970, included here as the BBC has been a model for so many other broadcast systems.
  3. Katz, Elihu, and George Wedell. Broadcasting in the Third World: Promise and Performance. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977. The importance of radio (primarily) in developing nations.
  4. Schwoch, James. The American Radio Industry and its Latin American Activities, 1900-1939. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1990. American wireless companies, growth of broadcasting, the rise of a military-industrial complex, and international conferences on radio.
  5. Segrave, Kerry. American Television Abroad: Hollywood’s Attempt to Dominate World Television. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1998. Relates the story from the 1940s into the 1990s and how many U.S. programs built substantial audiences overseas.
  6. Smith, Anthony, ed. Television: An International History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998 (2nd ed.) Anthology of illustrated articles covering most parts of the world.
  7. Tracey, Michael. The Decline and Fall of Public Service Broadcasting. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. The pressures on government-supported radio and television systems in the face of expanding technological options and commercial systems.

International Radio

  1. Berg, Jerome S. On the Short Waves, 1923-1945: Broadcast Listening in the Pioneer Days of Radio. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1999. Three main sections trace the rise of the medium in the 1920s, shortwave broadcasting and listening in the 1930s (“DXing”–the emphasis here), and wartime use of shortwave services.
  2. Broadcasting on the Short Waves, 1945 to Today. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008. Continuation of title above. See matching volume on shortwave listening under 7-A, above.
  3. Browne, Donald R. International Radio Broadcasting: The Limits of the Limitless Medium. New York: Praeger, 1982. The role of radio propaganda in international services.
  4. Heil, Alan L. Jr. Voice of America: A History. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. First full-length history from inception in 1942, including people and services as well as the domestic political battles about VOA.
  5. Woods, James. History of International Broadcasting. London: IEE, 1992 and 1999 (2 vols.). Best history of the technology behind cross-border radio broadcasts from the 1920s into the 1990s, with much on both World War II and Cold War services, with considerable information on specific nations.


This is an expanding subject of research, though little focuses on history–in part as these services are so new.


  1. Banet-Webster, Sarah, et al, eds. Cable Visions: Television Beyond Broadcasting. New York: New York University Press, 2007. The multi-channel competitive scene.
  2. Mullen, Megan. Television in the Multichannel Age: A Brief History of Cable Television. New York: Blackwell, 2008. Title sums it up.
  3. Parsons, Patrick R. Blue Skies: A History of Cable Television. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008. First full-length history of the medium, melding people, technology, programming, and regulation. Definitive treatment to this point.

Other Services

  1. Butricia, Andrew J., ed. Beyond the Ionosphere: Fifty Years of Satellite Communication. Washington: National Aeronautics and Space Administration History Office, 1997. More than 20 chapters cover all aspects, including satellite design and applications.
  2. Chandler, Alfred D. Inventing the Electronic Century: The Epic Story of the Consumer Electronics and Computer Industries. New York: Free Press, 2001. A noted business historian relates the story of both businesses and how they slowly grew together.
  3. De Gay, Paul, et al. Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1997. The first widely-used portable audio device is described and assessed.
  4. Grant, August E. And Jennifer H. Meadows. Communication Technology Update. Burlington, MA: Focal Press, 2006 (10th ed.). Useful collection of brief chapters updating a wide rainbow of consumer technologies.
  5. Hecht, Jeff. City of Light: The Story of Fiber Optics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Development of the high-capacity fiber cables that now carry so much information, including television and cable.
  6. Marlow, Eugene, and Eugene Secunda. Shifting Time and Space: The Story of Videotape. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1991. Innovation in the 1950s and some sense of its impact, first on broadcast television, and then on consumer viewing.
  7. Morton, David L. Jr. Sound Recording: The Life Story of a Technology. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2004. Useful study designed for general readers of the trends in analog and then digital audio recording.
  8. Wasser, Frederick. Veni, Vidi, Video: The Hollywood Empire and the VCR. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001. Changing views of the film industry toward the VCR–from trying to quash it to embracing it as a major mode of program distribution.