This volume profiles about 300 African American (and a few white) performers, organizations and series broadcast during radio's "Golden Age"--the years 1921 through 1955. Many of these personalities and programs are chronicled in more depth here than in any previous publication, while several are covered here for the first time. The entries reveal the rich diversity in radio programming created by black talent and intended for black audiences during a time that has often been portrayed as nearly devoid of a black presence.
There are two appendices: a chronology of debuts and notable events, and a week-by-week episode guide of both the pioneering African American radio series The Negro Achievement Hour and The Negro Art Group Hour, both of which debuted in 1928. There is a bibliography and a comprehensive index.
Ellett, Ryan. Encyclopedia of black radio in the United States, 1921-1955. McFarland, 2012. 208p bibl index afp ISBN 0-7864-6315-5; ISBN 9780786463152. Reviewed in 2012apr CHOICE. • New from McFarland •
Seeking to provide additional information about a relatively little-documented aspect of American popular entertainment, Ellett, a public school teacher, profiles about 300 African American (and several white) performers, organizations, and series broadcast from radio's early days--including, per the preface, many who "have received very little attention in prior works on African American radio." Thus, alongside entries for important radio entrepreneurs such as Jack Cooper and well-known performers such as Cab Calloway, the Mills Brothers, and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, one also finds information on less-well-remembered personalities such as Georgia Burke and the ultra-obscure Mrs. Max Oberndorfer. Entries are arranged alphabetically and generally include a list of sources. The book also features a brief overview of the history of early radio, and two appendixes--a chronology of debuts and notable events, and a week-by-week episode guide to the pioneering series titled The Negro Achievement Hour and The Negro Art Group Hour. The absence of photographs or other illustrations lessens the book's visual appeal, but does not detract from the value of the information provided. This is a worthwhile complement to works such as William Barlow's Voice Over: The Making of Black Radio (CH, Jun'99, 36-5476). Extensive bibliography.
Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general readers. -- D. Highsmith, California State University--East Bay
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