Academic journal article Journalism History

Sounds in the Dark: All-Night Radio in American Life

Academic journal article Journalism History

Sounds in the Dark: All-Night Radio in American Life

Article excerpt

Keith, Michael C. Sounds in the Dark: All-Night Radio in American Life. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 2001. 242 pp. $34.99.

Michael C. Keith's Sounds in theDark-All-- Night Radio in American Life celebrates the creative, quirky personalities of radio's overnight shift. Such legendary figures as Jean Shepherd, Barry Gray, Wolfman Jack, Long John Nebel, and Larry King (who also contributed a foreword) are profiled, taking readers back to a time before corporate cost-cutting and centralized programming took much of the life and edge out of wee-hours radio.

Keith is the most prolific academic chronicler of the radio industry, having previously written of gay and lesbian, native, and underground broadcasting, among other topics. He draws from an impressive collection of personal interviews. His style in Sounds in theDark may be an acquired taste, featuring lengthy block quotes from a range of radio personalities and critics. "Instead of one narrator, there are dozens," he writes in explanation. At times, the quotes continue for page after page, repeating some of the same points, which may leave some readers calling for an editor.

For the patient reader, however, Sounds in the Dark is a trove of facts and anecdotes about this neglected genre. Keith situates the emergence of overnight radio in the history of the medium, describing, for instance, the influence of clear-channel allocations, World War II, radio's discovery of rock music, underground FM, and the ultimate rise of talk radio. …

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