While the world of radio is primarily an audial medium, sometimes there are things you will only find in the pages of a book. Whether you are looking to learn more about radio's history, learn how to build your station's audience, or just looking for a fun story about someone in the biz, books on radio broadcasting can be a helpful resource for broadcasting newbies.
In this post, you will find a list of books recommended to anyone interested - or already involved - in radio broadcasting. Here are 10 books every broadcaster should consider adding to their bookshelf!
1. Beyond Powerful Radio: A Communicator’s Guide to the Internet Age
The holy grail of internet radio survival guides, Valerie Geller's Beyond Powerful Radio is a must-read for anyone looking to build a career as an internet radio broadcaster. It is practical, easy to digest, and full of several techniques - including how to produce and host a show, how to gather news, how to market your station, and even what to do when you are experiencing burnout.
With contributions from over 100 top experts from different broadcast fields, Beyond Powerful Radio is a book you will continually pick up and read as you progress in your career.
2. Broadcast Voice Handbook: How to Polish Your On-Air Delivery
If you're looking to sharpen your radio voice, this is the book for you. Ann S. Utterback is a teacher and consultant in voice improvement. She's been in the biz for more than 40 years and gives the same advice in her Broadcast Voice Handbook that she's given to clients from CNN, UPI, CBS, and NPR.
Broadcast Voice Handbook: How to Polish Your On-Air Delivery teaches aspiring talent how to improve the quality of their voice and how to conduct themselves on air. It also gives pointers on how to improve resonance, how to articulate words, and how to make your voice sound warmer and more natural.
3. Essential Radio Skills: How to Present and Produce a Radio Show
A guide made specifically for the independent radio broadcaster, Peter Stewart's Essential Radio Skills talks about the fundamentals of being a daily broadcaster. It teaches readers how to prepare shows before they go out, how to handle last-minute changes to running orders, how to set up events and competitions for listeners, and much more.
It covers network, commercial, music, and talk radio skills. The new edition has even been updated with links to a YouTube channel where readers can hear examples of the work!
4. Up All Night: My Life and Times in Rock Radio
Carol Miller is a famous rock 'n' roll disc jockey who has had a steady presence in New York City radio since 1973. She is even an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In her funny, heartbreaking, and inspiring memoir Up All Night, Carol reflects on her long broadcasting career and all the challenges that came with it.
From her rise in a male-dominated music industry, to meeting with Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney, to dating Steven Tyler and fighting breast cancer, there's never a dull moment in her book. This is a great read for any broadcaster who feels like giving up, or for anyone looking for a good laugh.
5. Radio Secrets: An Insider’s Guide to Presenting and Producing Powerful Content for Broadcast and Podcast
David Lloyd's Radio Secrets is all about how to capture the attention of listeners. In the book, he talks about how to charm an audience, how to make yourself unique compared to other broadcasters, and how to survive in a competitive podcasting world.
Radio Secrets also teaches formatting techniques and music presentation. David Lloyd is a 40-year veteran in the industry, so there's plenty of experience to draw from his book. This is a particularly good read for newcomers in the industry.
6. Radio Broadcasting: A History of the Airwaves
If you're a radio lover and history buff, this book was written for you. Gordon Bathgate's Radio Broadcasting: A History of the Airwaves takes readers back to the genesis of radio and explores how it was developed over time. You'll learn about Maxwell and Hertz's early theories, Guglielmo Marconi’s experimental transmissions, the first broadcasts of the BBC, and how radio shaped World War II.
The book also takes a look at notable radio broadcasters in history and how radio has continued to thrive despite competition with television, computers, mobile phones, and mp3 players. Radio Broadcasting: A History of the Airwaves was published just last year (2020), making it the most recent book on our list!
7. Radio Content in the Digital Age: The Evolution of a Sound Medium
Radio Content in the Digital Age is a series of essays taken from the 2009 Radio Content in the Digital Age conference in Cyprus. Gazi, Starkey, and Jedrzejewski's book examines the important role new technology will have for radio and proposes new options for the medium in the future. Ultimately, this book reflects on radio's past and present, and the beauty of its fluidity from one platform to the next.
8. No Static: A Guide to Creative Radio Programming
Looking to build a team or boost your leadership skills as a broadcaster? Quincy McCoy's No Static is all about how to create a fun work environment that will translate to your audience on air. He gives leadership development exercises to help motivate your staff to work more productively as a team. Additionally, the book has tips on how to highlight your brand, create stronger programming, and how to achieve better ratings with more relatable DJs.
9. Have Mercy!: Confessions of the Original Rock 'N' Roll Animal
Have Mercy! is the memoir of legendary 1980s radio personality Wolfman Jack. This colorful account dives deep into Wolfman's childhood, how he made it in the biz after working as a station ad rep, the creation of his alter ego, and adventures with celebrities.
The memoir also gets very personal, as it reflects upon Wolfman's struggle with drugs, as well as his thoughts on inspiring George Lucas's famous film American Grafitti. This is another great book to read for any broadcaster looking to make a distinct name for themselves in the industry.
10. This Business of Radio Programming
Published all the way back in 1977, Claude and Barbara Hall's This Business of Radio Programming offers readers histories, accounts, and tips about the medium. It promises to make any programmer "smarter, hipper, and better equipped to create a great radio station."
If you'd like to know about radio's roots - including the history of Top 40 and Boss Radio - this is a good read. There are several first-hand accounts and interviews with radio giants and professionals, including Bill Stewart, Chuck Blore, Bill Drake, Ron Jacobs, Don Imus, Robert W. Morgan, and Gary Owens.
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