Reviewed by Richard A. D'Angelo, American Secretary, World DX Club. This review is from the July 1999 edition of the WDXC monthly bulletin, "Contact." Reprinted with permission.
Every once in a while, a special book arrives in the bookstores that is a "must have" for the radio monitoring enthusiast. "On the Short Waves, 1923-1945: Broadcast Listening in the Pioneer Days of Radio" by Jerome S. Berg is just such a book.
Written by World DX Club member "Jerry" Berg, a current member of the North American Shortwave Association's ("NASWA") Executive Council, past NASWA Log Report editor and lifelong shortwave listener, the book covers shortwave broadcasting and early shortwave broadcast listening.
Jerry is also well known for his work as Chair of the Committee to Preserve Radio Verifications ("CPRV"), which is a committee of the Association of North American Radio Clubs ("ANARC"). Shortly after founding the CPRV, Jerry's committee work expanded into general research into the early days of radio broadcasting and listening. This combination led him to putting pen to paper and developing a book that captures the thrill and excitement of the early days of radio broadcasting, radio listening and DXing. The book is the product of extensive scholarly research into the history of medium wave and shortwave radio broadcasting and listening and the events surrounding that period. I can highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the early days of radio, and shortwave radio in particular.
"On the Short Waves, 1923-1945" begins with a review of broadcasting's roots and the growth of medium wave DXing, which was the foundation for the future development of shortwave DXing. The first "wireless" experiments and the efforts of experimenters and inventors such as Marconi, De Forest, and Armstrong are detailed. The story moves into shortwave broadcasting and shortwave DXing through World War II. There are numerous references to the popular radio literature of the 1920-1940 time period, such as Hugo Gernsback's "Radio News" and "Short Wave Craft" magazines, and the ever-popular "Radex" magazine. There are numerous QSL illustrations taken from the archives of the CPRV collection. In his book, author Berg has conveyed the flavor of the mystery and the magic of shortwave radio's early years.
The book is divided into eleven chapters plus endnotes, a reading list and an index. The chapters are entitled: Broadcasting Roots, Distance, The Arrival of Shortwave, Stations of the 1930s, Shortwave Broadcasting in the United States, Reception, The Popular Shortwave Press, Organizing, Verifications, Stations and Voices of War, and Listening in Wartime.
The book was written to appeal to those with an interest in shortwave broadcast history and the early days of DXing. The early days of the listening hobby were quite different from today's environment. Consequently, the book provides an intriguing contrast between DXing at the close of the millennium and the early DXing movement.
The book covers numerous topics in its eleven chapters. Readers will enjoy coverage of the radio personalities during the early days of radio broadcasting. Thethe publisher (McFarland & Co., Inc., Box 611, Jefferson, NC 28640, USA) for US$42.50 plus US$4.00 shipping and handling in the United States and US$6.00 elsewhere. Also, orders may be placed by telephone (1-800-253-2187) or FAX (1-336-246-5018) or through the publisher's website http://www.mcfarlandpub.com. Orders can be charged to VISA, MasterCard, AMEX, or Discover cards. The book is available via other Internet booksellers, e.g. http://www.amazon.com, http://www.barnesandnoble.com, http://www.bordersbooks.com, and http://www.waterstones.com. As usual, club members can order this book through Northampton.
"On the Shortwaves, 1923-1945: Broadcast Listening in the Pioneer Days of Radio" is one radio-related book that needs to be in every listener's library. With the summer months coming up, this may be a good time to dig into some terrific hobby reading. Definitely, it is a "must read" for every radio enthusiast.