From the scratchy sounds of Philco radios — through black and white to color television — a new book details the history of broadcasting in Iowa. Journalism professor Jeff Stein of Wartburg College wrote the book inspired by the memorabilia and information housed in the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting that’re kept at the college in Waverly. Stein says Iowa led the way in several areas of broadcasting.He says the first live play-by-play of a high school game was done 82 years ago in Marshalltown. The station ran a wire three blocks to the field. That station was K-F-J-B. Stein says W-O-I T.V. also did the first live satellite broadcast of a sports event, an Iowa State football game. The book, “Making Waves, the People and Places in Iowa Broadcasting”, also chronicles some of the people behind the cameras and microphones. One of the most famous is former president Ronald Reagan, who started on the radio in Davenport and then later moved to Des Moines.He says one of the things Reagen was known for was recreating baseball games on the air using wire service reports. Stein says one of the things he learned in researching the book was the recreations via the tickertape were common through the 1960s in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Another pioneer in the industry in Iowa was Jack Shelley. He says Jack Shelley is the only local radio correspondent he knows that covered the war in Europe and the surrender of Japan. Shelley was there at the start of television at W-H-O in Des Moines and later went on to become a professor. Stein says radio has changed in Iowa since its inception with large companies now owning many stations. He says consolidation is the big word in the industry, where smaller amounts of companies own larger amounts of stations. Stein says there were chains of stations in the 1920s and 1930s where W-M-T was locked in with K-R-N-T, K-S-O AND W-N-I-X in their own little network. He says consolidation isn’t totally new, it’s always been around. As for television, he says there’s less local programming today. He says in the earliest days, all of the shows were live and locally-produced. Now the only locally-produced shows are news. He says you used to have entertainment shows with bands and kid’s shows that were locally produced. Stein says this is not a scholarly, footnoted book, it’s intended for anyone with an interest in the history of radio and TV in Iowa. He says his idea of writing the book was to let the audience learn more about the people on the radio and TV over the last 75 years. He says if you know a little about the people, you’ll find the behind the scenes stories interesting. The book is available in most bookstores, or you can call:800-626-0411 to order a copy. The proceeds of the book go to help fund the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting.
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