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For thirty years, Louisville native Edwards was the voice of National Public Radio's daily newsmagazine programs, co-hosting All Things Considered before launching Morning ...
For thirty years, Louisville native Edwards was the voice of National Public Radio's daily newsmagazine programs, co-hosting All Things Considered before launching Morning Edition in 1979. These programs built NPR's national audience while also bringing Edwards to national prominence. In 2004, however, NPR announced that it would be finding a replacement for Edwards, inciting protests from tens of thousands of his fans and controversy among his listeners and fellow broadcasters. Today, Edwards continues to inform the American public with a voice known for its sincerity, intelligence, and wit.
In A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio, Edwards recounts his career as one of the most important figures in modern broadcasting. He describes his road to success on the radio waves, from his early days knocking on station doors during college and working for American Forces Korea Network to his work at NPR and induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2004. Edwards tells the story of his exit from NPR and the launch of his new radio ventures on the XM Satellite Radio network. Throughout the book, his sharp observations about the people he interviewed and covered and the colleagues with whom he worked offer a window on forty years of American news and on the evolution of public journalism.
A Voice in the Box is an insider's account of the world of American media and a fascinating, personal narrative from one of the most iconic personalities in radio history.
""In A Voice in the Box, Edwards details his rise with the public radio startup in 1974 to his dismissal in 2004, telling his side of the breakup story for the first time."--The Miami Herald" --
""Edwards makes clear throughout the book: He has never lost his passion for a well-told story."--The Washington Post" --
November 6, 2004. Another cold, crisp night in the Windy City, but it's warm inside the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Chicago Hotel, where hundreds of radio royalty have gathered. Men in tuxedos and women in beautiful gowns or sexy cocktail dresses are clustered at thirty-four tables, each adorned with flowers and a burning candle. At one end of the ballroom is a bandstand, where Mickey and the Memories will entertain for everyone's dancing pleasure. That will come later, after dinner, many speeches, and a ceremony that is also a live radio program carried by the Premier group of stations.
The announcer is Jim Bohannon, one of my oldest friends in radio. He has alerted the diners to the Applause sign behind him and has let it be known that great audible enthusiasm is encouraged. At exactly 8:00 pm, we hear some upbeat theme music, and all respond to the sign's insistent demand for applause. A floor director cues Bohannon, who says, "Live, from Chicago, it's radio's biggest night—the 2004 Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Tonight, the Radio Hall of Fame inducts XM Satellite Radio superstar Bob Edwards."
Superstar? We do love our hyperbole in radio. As of that night, my show on XM was just four weeks old. I doubt if the fellow who, months earlier, fired me from my previous show at NPR regarded me as anybody's superstar. But no matter—I was in the Hall.
Radio is closing in on its centennial, and its Hall of Fame includes the scientists who invented it, the hucksters who made money from it, the journalists who informed, the smart people who enlightened, and especially the enormously talented entertainers who came into our homes and cars and offices and made us laugh, cry, wince, fear, dread, guffaw, and enter worlds we could not imagine on our own. So here I am with Marconi, Edward R. Murrow, Arthur Godfrey, Alan Freed, Fibber McGee and Molly, Amos 'n' Andy, Orson Welles, Paul Harvey, Wolfman Jack, Bing Crosby, Gordon McLendon, Studs Terkel, Ma Perkins, Cousin Brucie, Red Barber, the Lone Ranger—just a stew of people, programs, and genres spanning generations and having nothing in common but the microphone and an audience.
My induction ceremony was a watershed event—the last in a series of traumas and triumphs that had kept me in a state of emotional whiplash for most of the year. So this night in Chicago was the end of something but also the beginning of something. It symbolized my passage to a new radio home and an environment in which I could do what I regard as the very best work of my career.
Induction really recognizes a much longer journey—the span of a career. So let's go back to the little burg where my radio journey began in 1968, when I had no notion of a hall of fame—only a burning desire to be a voice in the box.
It was a perfect day for lust, a mild, sunny day in October 1968. The program director of the radio station had figured out a way to rendezvous with a female listener without his wife noticing he was not on the air. He preempted local programs, including his own, and carried ABC's national coverage of Apollo 7. The station had not shown such dedication to public service in the past, but his wife, listening from across the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky, would not question his absence from the air. After all, this was America's first manned Apollo flight.
Someone was required to sit at the microphone and fulfill the government requirement that the station be identified each hour. The program director chose me. I was a twenty-one-year-old college senior and had been hanging around the station for weeks to learn the ropes. For five years I had been knocking on the doors of stations in my hometown, begging for a chance. Station managers told me that the Louisville market was too big to hire beginners and that I should make my start in the smaller towns of Kentucky. I was just about to do that when the program director of this tiny blip of a station in Indiana allowed me to sit in his studio and observe.
Now he was away, succumbing to manly passion, and I had my opportunity. As the ABC anchor cued the station break, I flipped the switch and spoke the first words of my broadcast career: "This is WHEL, 1570, in New Albany, Indiana."
There were no fireworks in celebration and my debut escaped the notice of the local newspapers, but there's nothing bigger in a young man's life than realizing his dream. Never mind that I was working at the tackiest, most miserable little outpost in American broadcasting; I had crossed the threshold and joined the profession of Edward R. Murrow, Arthur Godfrey, and Red Barber.
Why wouldn't I be thrilled at joining the club? For nearly fifty years, broadcasters had informed and entertained Americans in ways that newspapers, magazines, theater, and motion pictures could not. They had made it possible for citizens to feel present at events occurring far away. Murrow's rooftop broadcasts during the London Blitz brought World War II into the living rooms of Manhattan apartments and Iowa farmhouses. Earlier, people short on hope during the Great Depression heard reassuring words from their president on the radio, and radio performers offered the only professional entertainment most Americans could afford. Baseball fans no longer had to gather at the local newspaper office to be relayed telegraph reports of the World Series. Graham McNamee in the twenties and Red Barber in the thirties magically transported fans in the bayous and the Rockies to the ballparks of New York, Chicago, and Detroit. Arthur Godfrey, on radio and then on television, brought a folksy personality to the airwaves and made his audience comfortable with the entertainers he introduced.
Broadcasting was run by people who, for the most part, believed they had a responsibility to listeners and viewers. The term public service was not uncommon in the early years of radio and TV. Broadcasting was a fabulously lucrative business, but money was not the only motivation. True, the programs were not always artful, challenging, and uplifting, but they were tasteful and responsible. Government told broadcasters they were to operate "in the public interest, convenience, and necessity," and most did.
Radio reinvented itself in the television age and began to rely on "narrowcasting," each station using a format designed to appeal to a distinctive demographic group. Television was now the mass-entertainment medium, with three commercial networks drawing tens of millions to their shows. Broadcasting drove pop culture. Radio and TV's Ed Sullivan Show had introduced us to Elvis and the Beatles—what next? TV had replaced newspapers as our primary source for news. Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America. I began my career at a crucial moment in the nation's history, and I believe it was also a critical time for communicators.
Broadcasting delivered the news of 1968, and most of the news that year was bad. We turned to radio and TV for escapist pleasure, and they betrayed us. They told us of young people dying in Vietnam and of other young people rebelling against authority. They told us about assassinations, riots in the cities, the Soviet crushing of the Prague Spring, and the chaos at the Democratic convention. Everyone seemed angry about something or somebody. Even the music was angry. In ancient times, rulers angered by news of a distant battle lost used to kill the messengers who brought them such bad news. In 1968, Americans began wondering if their messengers truly were their friends. Told by the scholar Marshall McLuhan that they should be more critical of broadcasters, they began using his terms for communicators. The trusted Walter Cronkite and his peers were now part of something vaguely sinister called "the media."
Running for election that year, Richard Nixon, who believed television had cost him the White House in 1960, showed how much he had learned in eight years. His campaign was run by advertising executives who were masters of the art of selling on TV. Nixon was a packaged product that year, sold to viewers who never saw him challenged in a forum that wasn't controlled by his handlers. This is standard practice in today's politics, but it began with the Nixon campaign of 1968. Once in office, Nixon's ideologues mounted a highly successful campaign to smear journalists, particularly TV journalists. A broadcaster's relationship with the audience would never be the same.
If the red-baiting anti-Semite from California didn't like journalists, it must be a club worth joining. Just days before Nixon's election, I reached for a microphone switch to speak to an audience for the first time. Astronauts were preparing to go to the moon, and I wanted to tell the world about it. Never mind that I was really telling only New Albany, Indiana, about it—it was a beginning. Finally I was doing what I had wanted to do from the time I was barely more than a toddler. I had waited long enough. I wanted in.
Excerpted from A VOICE IN THE BOX by BOB EDWARDS Copyright © 2011 by Bob Edwards. Excerpted by permission of THE UNIVERSITY PRESS OF KENTUCKY. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted December 1, 2012
Posted January 11, 2012
Posted October 21, 2011
Although Bob Edwards was born the year I graduated high school his story brought back memories of some good, and not so good, days. The intrigue of National Public Radio reminds me of the turf-protection and heavy-handed management found in some government offices. Although at times his story seems self serving, Mr. Edwards gives credit where credit is due. This autobiography is a must read for anyone who aspires to radio journalism.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 13, 2011
To see the title and the picture your thinking oh well hmm maybe...but it is a well written book in my view I enjoyed it. The inside look of something that is such a big part of our lives is something that I always likedWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 10, 2011
Bob writes in a conversational style. An easy read, but he does touch on some controversial areas. if you are an NPR fan you will like this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2011
I am a listener of NPR radio for many years and remember when Bob Edwards left. I guess I didn't pay much attention as I thought he had retired. He has a scratchy quality to his voice which made me envision an older gentleman who was non-judgemental and delivered the news daily. Boy was I surprised when I read this book! Not only was he younger than I thought, but very opinionated and bitter. His stories were not well written and left us asking for more, especially the story about the taxi driver who died while driving Mr. Edwards. So whatever did happen? Why tell us and then not finish the story?
I think I was better off with my kindly gentleman image. I should have known when Sirius Radio gave it out for free.
Posted October 8, 2011
This book was given to me in electronic format, because I am an XM Radio subscriber. Alas, Barnes and Noble does not support ePub format, so I am not able to read it on my PocketBookPro902.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2011
Upfront, I'm biased. I have so much respect and admiration for what Bob Edwards has accomplished that I couldn't find fault with him or his book even if it weren't well written. But, it is well written, enjoyable to read and fills in a lot of the gaps and questions about what went on when he left NPR (temporarilly).
Mr. Edwards to me is what i can only imagine my parents and grandparents thought of Ed Morrow, Douglas Edwards and all of the war correspondents that made radio the premier medium for news.
In our 24/7 internet news hype, I am very concerned that people like Bob Edwards are someone to enjoy for now, because they unlikely won't be replaced.
The book reads quickly and often makes you smile, because Bob Edwards and I are about the same age and many of his comments and observations brought back memories.
Posted October 8, 2011
Posted October 6, 2011
Posted October 6, 2011
Posted October 4, 2011
I really enjoyed reading A Voice in the Box. I have been a fan of Bob Edwards for many, many years. His perspective on the beginnings of public radio and his career in radio were thought provoking. I was glad to read about his side of the story regarding his departure from NPR and Morning Edition.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 4, 2011
Too bad we get so little impartial reporting on TV now--for that you can only depend on public broadcasting, and not always. Edwards points out even in PBS only radio was really "independent" in its thinking and reporting. The events of his personal life make interesting reading.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 3, 2011
Posted October 3, 2011
Not knowing the writer allowed me to learn more of this time of radio. Most enjoyed the personalities and the time of the nation as to the many events during this period. It is a well put together piece with some minor flaws but a reading experience. Excellent for anyone wanting to learn about the radio business though a large part of it is now dated as the world has moved on to other electronic miracles.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 1, 2011
Interesting autobiography, dwelling more on work-related than personal matters. One might expect that of a dedicated journalist, and Bob Edwards has clearly devoted all of his adult life to his profession, or calling actually, far more than anything or anyone else. Callings earn that attribution because often they require pretty much 24-7 devotion. This leads to a book that gives you a lot of information regarding news radio operations quite directly and not a lot about Bob Edwards the man other than indirectly. If this was his intent, he has succeeded.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 30, 2011
Like Bob Edwards, I wanted a career in radio. I don't have what it takes, and I'm so glad this man does. I really enjoyed reading the stories about the good times and the bad. And I'm glad he's still on my XM radio. They'll have to pry this wonderful broadcast artist out of my cold dead ears. Thanks for the memories, Bob!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 15, 2011
I agree with the other reader that this was a very self-serving book. While tooting his own horn he manages to get in his left-wing zingers at the "other side" whenever possible. The real corker was when he referred to 9/11 as "some planes hit some buildings" and that it was merely an event that delayed his XM debut and not the national tragedy it really was. I'm glad this was a free book - I would have certainly regretted spending money on it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 11, 2011
As a fan of both All Things Considered and Morning Edition when I was driving into work or home during those hours a few years ago I was most interested in reading this book. I heard the man speaking on NPR during that time and it was a great way to both pass the during my hours drive into and from work. I believe that those who have listened to Mr. Edwards will get the most of the book and those who enjoy radio history.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 7, 2011