Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Joe Julian - This was Radio

Joe Julian was an all around radio man who's decade spanned over 30 years, and appeared in over 10,000 broadcasts in all forms of production from sound effects to leading man. As a current day radio employee, this book just makes me want to buck the system, bring in some actors and some musicians, pull up a script, lock the studio door, and have a blast.

Joseph Julian

Unlike the corporate, bean counting, unimaginative state of radio today, these men and women lead incredible lives, had to break boundaries to get their desired results, and, without computer technology, extended the theater of the mind (which our bosses still say today, strangely enough) into people's living rooms every night for almost 40 years. The things they accomplished without technology are impressive.

Mr. Julian worked with everyone from Marlene Dietrich to Orson Welles the godfather of theatrical radio, Norman Corwin.  The book starts out as a behind the scenes look into the greatest era of radio, but about halfway through, tragedy strikes.  And by tragedy,  I mean Joseph McCarthy and the Red Channels list.

Wrongfully blacklisted as a commie the book takes us through the harsh reality that all it takes is the general public's fear of something for those in power to be able to do whatever they want.  Lives were ruined, careers ended, and few had the courage to stand up against the machine in court . . .  But Julian did.

I won't give away how it ends but after reading this book I have even more respect for the group of people who birthed the radio movement, and a general animosity for the people now that are ruining it and people in government that put their hands in too many pockets.  It's an amazing story from an amazing era.  It wouldn't be here if I didn't recommend it!

Feeling nostalgic?  look up your favorite Old Time Radio (OTR) programs here:

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