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"A Historical Analysis of American Short Wave Broadcasting, 1916-1942" by Michael Kent Sidel

Reviewed by Jerry Berg, jberg@ontheshortwaves.com

Until the establishment of the Voice of America in 1942, shortwave broadcasting in the United States was entirely in private hands. Not only is this Ph.D dissertation by Michael Kent Sidel the definitive work on U.S. shortwave broadcasting--it is also an excellent resource on many of the more general aspects of shortwave broadcast development and regulation (other than specific shortwave stations in other countries, which it does not cover). It is well written and thoroughly footnoted.

The book begins with an informative treatment on the development of radio in general and shortwave in particular. This is followed by discussion of the role of the amateurs, radio pioneers Marconi and Conrad, and early radio regulation. The bulk of the book consists of two long sections, one covering the period 1923-1937, the other 1938-1942. For each period, the author discusses the development of shortwave in each of the principal radio and broadcasting companies--Westinghouse, GE, RCA, NBC, CBS, WLW and World Wide Broadcasting (later WRUL), plus minor broadcasters like W4XB, W9XAA, W9XF and W6XN.

These individual treatments are nicely blended into the overall story of shortwave through discussion of such general topics as all-wave receivers, shortwave programming, short wave radio regulation, and the commercialization of shortwave.

The book is tightly written and packs a lot of information. While it does not address shortwave hobby issues in any significant way, nor the world of shortwave broadcasting in other countries, it is the place to begin any serious study of United States shortwave broadcasting.

(273-page Ph.D dissertation presented by Mr. Sidel to the Graduate School (Mass Communications), Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, June 1976; No. 77-1352, available from University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Road, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346; see http://www.umi.com/ for prices and ordering information.)