As a child, I used to take my little transistor radio, put in a few batteries and listen to country and rock stations in far off places like Tulsa, Omaha and Chicago and listen to the banter between the callers and the DJ and it made me feel good to be part of the radio crowd. Micheal Keith's book on the overnight radio phenomenon traces the history of overnight radio from the first broadcasts in the 1920s up to the present day. This is not a typical narrative as in most history books, but rather a book set in a "roundtable" format where radio personalities would share their experiences of working the overnight shift from midnight to 6 a.m. They also talked about the impact of radio legends like Yvonne Daniels, Long John Nebel, Jean Shepard (most famously known as the creator of The Christmas Story) and Herb Jepko on the medium and the way that their ingenuity sparked listener interaction. They also debated the impact of corporate radio and the new medium of satellite radio and its impact on the listener relationships. The consensus was that radio during the overnight hours was a place where people would get personal with the DJ and share their stories while the DJs and other hosts spun yarns about their lives and travels. Management at the time did not place strict restraints on their programs as relatively few people listened.
The book pleased me in terms of giving a good overview of the subject, but it left me wanting more. Keith's statement that Dave Nemo started the Road Gang on WWL was in error as it was Charlie Douglas who started the show. However, I would urge people to to buy this volume and give it a read and relive their childhood holding a radio under the sheets at night and listening to the sounds of Wolfman Jack. Four stars.