"Say Goodnight, Gracie - The Last Years of Network Radio."
By Jim Cox
ISBN: 0-7864-1168-6 214 pp. photographs, notes, appendix, bibliography, index $35 softcover
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers
Jefferson, NC 28640
Fax Order: 336-246-5018
For nearly a quarter of a century network radio was America's primary means of mass communication and entertainment. But in a single decade, the 1950s, network radio went from America's entertainment frontrunner to a distant also ran.
Everybody knows that television killed network radio programming. But is that statement completely true? In "Say Goodnight, Gracie," author Jim Cox takes an in-depth look at American network radio in the 1950's and finds that it was more than just the small screen that did the deed. The reasons for the demise of network radio in America were many and diverse including the increased profitability of independent radio programming, the rise of rock n' roll, prolonged economic prosperity, and many others. All are clearly and intelligently examined in this book.
By the end of the decade, television gained ascendency over network radio programming. However, it was not without a fight.
Some network executives attempted to alter radio programming to meet their audiences changing tastes and needs. These attempts to keep network radio a viable and profitable entertainment medium are fully covered.
Ironically, some of network radio's finest programming efforts premiered in that last decade of the Golden Age. The 1950s saw the premier of adult Westerns such as GUNSMOKE, serious science fiction programs like DIMENSION X and X-MINUS ONE, and NBC's weekend magazine program, MONITOR. These ground-breaking efforts and others are excellently discussed.
The last chapter of the book is a review of the major changes that have taken place in network radio since 1961.
Don't think that "Say Goodnight, Gracie" is a dry, scholarly tome. Jim has the unusual ability to convey to the reader accurate, historical facts in a way that is not only informative, but also thought-provoking and entertaining. There are interesting vignettes on many favorite shows such as ONE MAN'S FAMILY, THE LONE RANGER, LUX RADIO THEATER, FIBBER MCGEE AND MOLLY, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, and THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM. The reader will also find lively discussions on show genres from daytime dramas to westerns, from comedy to music, from documentaries to news.
Jim Cox has produced another fine contribution to the historical writings on the Golden Age of Radio. "Say Goodnight, Gracie" is a book that is well-worth reading and should be in the library of every serious Old-Time Radio fan. He is also the author of several other book published by McFarland including "The Great Radio Audience Participation Shows," "The Great Radio Soap Operas," and the soon-to-be published "Radio Crime Fighters."
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