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Background Radio Books

Compiled by Don Moore

The following books are academic communications books which may be of interest to the radio hobbyist who wants to really understand broadcating around the world. Some are a bit dry and technical in spots, but others are very readable. If you are interested in learning more about radio, the best place to start would be with Don Browne's book. Of course, these are books you are going to find at your local bookstore or public library. Ask your librarian about interlibrary loan. They should be able to get and of these for you from a large university library within two or three weeks. At most libraries this is a free service.


Barnouw, Erik. A set of three thick volumes published by Oxford University Press, each subtitled A History of Broadcasting in the United States. The books are A Tower in Babel, 1966 (covers the period to 1933); The Golden Web, 1968 (covers 1933-1953); and The Image Empire, 1970 (covers 1953 to 1970). Probably the best overall account of the development of broadcasting in the US.

Boyd, Douglas, ed. Broadcasting in the Arab World. 1982. Temple University Press. All the background informaton you would want on this region. Actually, an undated version was published in 1993 or 1994, but I don't have the citation here.

Browne, Donald R. International Radio Broadcasting: The Limits of the Limitless Medium. 1982. Praeger. Although this book is somewhat outdated in the satellite/internet era, it remains the best read around if you really want to understand all of the 'whys' of international broadcasting. Although this is an academic book, it is very, very, readable to the average person with an interest in radio. The only negative is that it was directed printed from the author's typed double-spaced manuscript, which gives it the look of a student term paper.

Childs, Harwood & John B. Whitton. 1942. Propaganda by Shortwave. Princeton University Press. This was sort of like Browne's book, but 40 years ago. It's considered a classic in the field.

Commonwealth Broadcasting Association Handbook. 1976. London. Info & pictures on stations throughout the commonwealth. I would bet there are more recent editions.

Cullinan, Howell. Pardon My Accent Plimpton Press, Norwood, MA 1934 221p. Human interest stories from the early days of broadcasting.

Douglas, George H. The Early Days of Radio Broadcasting. McFarland, Jefferson, NC 1987 256p.

Douglas, Susan J. Inventing American Broadcasting 1899- 1922 John Hopkins Univ Press 1987 363p. A highly regarded broadcasting history book.

Fejes, Fred. Imperialism, Media, and the Good Neighbor: New Deal Foreign Policy and United States Shortwave Broadcasting To Latin America. 1986. Ablex. 193p. An interesting look at early US shortwave and the beginnings of the VOA. Lots of references.

Katz, Elihu & George Wendall. Broadcasting in the Third World. 1977. Harvard Univ. Press. 305p. Some interesting insights into shortwave and radio in Third World nations. Because things change slowly in these countries, probably not as out of date as it may appear.

Laurien, Alexandre. The Voice of America: From Detente to the Reagen Doctrine. 1988 Ablex, Norwood NJ.

Lent, John A. Broadcasting in Asia and the Pacific. 1978. Temple Univ. Press. Certainly outdated, but some good historical perspectives on broadcasting in the region.

McCavitt, William E. Broadcasting Around the World. 1981. Tab Books. Closeups on 18 countries. Brazil, Guyana, & India of interest.

McNeil, Bill & Morris Wolfe. The Birth of Radio in Canada. 1982. Doubleday. Includes early days of 49m stations. Lots of photos.

Rosen, Philip T., ed. International Handbook of Broadcasting Systems. 1988. Greenwood Press. Focuses on broadcasting in 24 example countries.

Shepherd, F. M. Technical Development of Broadcasting in Asia- Pacific 1964-1984. 1984. Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union. Very technical, but some good photos of stns in Nepal, Qatar, Singapore, Sarawak, etc.

Soley, Lawrence, & John S. Nichols. Clandestine Radio Broadcasting. 1987. Praeger. 384p. One of my favorites, although I must say a few of the chapters (especially the Middle Eastern one) are quite dry. Still, a "must read" for clandestine fans.

Soley, Lawrence. Radio Warefare: OSS and CIA Subversive Propaganda. 1989 NY: Praeger 264p. A history of clandestine broadcasting with a focus on World War II.


Some years ago The Journal of Broadcasting published a number of lengthy area and subject specific bibliographies. These can point you to some interesting reading, although you will probably have to visit a university library to find this journal.

Africa: Volume 20, p 381-416.

Asia: Volume 19, p. 321-340.

Eastern Europe: Volume 22, p 107-130.

Caribbean: Volume 20, p 111-126.

History of Broadcasting: Volume 7, p 247.

Industrially Developed Nations: Volume 19, p 341-354.

Latin America: Volume 22, p196-216, and p 217-240.

Middle East: Volume 21, p 498-510.

Pacific Islands: Volume 21, p 215-233.

Religious Broadcasting: Volume 9, p249-279 & Vol. 10, p163-180 and p257-276.


This website is maintained by Don Moore,
Association of North American Radio Clubs
DXer of the Year for 1995

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