Wizard of the Wind

Overview

As a boy Jimmy Gill is mesmerized by his grandmother's old console radio and the amazing sounds it magically brings into his sad, dreary existence. Through the airwaves he discovers a fabulous new world that is, in the 1950s, just entering a "golden age" of rock and roll with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Fats Domino. With his young black friend, Detroit Simmons, Jimmy traces the sound he hears on the radio to a rough building just beyond his backdoor: radio station WROG. By accident, Jimmy and Dee become ...
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Overview

As a boy Jimmy Gill is mesmerized by his grandmother's old console radio and the amazing sounds it magically brings into his sad, dreary existence. Through the airwaves he discovers a fabulous new world that is, in the 1950s, just entering a "golden age" of rock and roll with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Fats Domino. With his young black friend, Detroit Simmons, Jimmy traces the sound he hears on the radio to a rough building just beyond his backdoor: radio station WROG. By accident, Jimmy and Dee become involved with the station and begin careers in broadcasting at early ages. Along the way, they encounter the mad, creative, colorful characters who are changing the musical landscape, the rock and roll stars and the deejays. With technical help from Detroit and financial help from some unsavory characters, Jimmy becomes a top disk jockey and eventually owns an FM station. From there, the two ride the crest of the broadcast explosion and build a media empire. Jimmy also falls in love with beautiful country music star Cleo Michaels. But along the way, Jimmy loses sight of what attracted him to the magical medium of radio in the first place, the ability for a talented dee jay to emotionally affect his audience with just a few words or the right mix of music. His success sours to greed and a lust for power. But when early shady dealings threaten to topple his empire and claim his best friend, Detroit, and the woman he loves so much, he reverts to the forces that have truly shaped his life: the support of friends and the inimitable warm embrace of creatively done radio. This novel is an allegory of what has happened to radio broadcasting over the last 20 years...where power and greed have replaced the creativity and talent of the disk jockeys who virtually re-invented radio on the fly when television threatened to kill it. The book is dedicated to over 300 radio personalities who will be familiar to many. After all, those readers likely grew up listening to some of these air talents, and allowed the legendary DJs to provide the soundtrack of their lives.

An insider's novel about the building of a radio empire, launched with a vast deejay publicity campaign. In the 1950s, with his black friend Detroit Simmons, young Jimmy Gill becomes involved with WROG, a run-down radio station. Along the way, the boys encounter the mad, creative, colorful characters who are changing the musical landscape. 368 pp. National author publicity. National radio promo.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Cornpone sweet, rags-to-riches-to-rags allegory of a dreamy Alabama deejay who invents every major radio programming innovation of the last three decades, staggers to the top of a sprawling Deep South FM music radio empire, and gives it up for love, family, and the simple life.

Second-novelist Keith (The Forever Season, 1995), an Alabama radio personality, sentimentalizes the rise of Jimmy Gill and his African-American electronics-whiz sidekick, Detroit Simmons, beginning with predictable childhood glimpses of Jimmy falling in love with his grandmother's cabinet-size Zenith tube radio, defying racial prohibitions to pal around with Simmons, and eventually encountering the drunks, misfits, and other socially marginal types at WROG-AM. Jimmy works his way on to the air; Detroit concocts gadgets that improve the station's operating efficiency. Because the FCC takes kindly to minority-owned stations, Jimmy and Detroit team up, with Detroit as nominal president, and use laundered drug money from no-good neighborhood juvenile delinquents Dwight and DeWayne George to buy a station. They build their holding into an FM radio chain on which they present a slower-paced, imaginative blend of rock, jazz, country, and folk music that conquers the airwaves. While Detroit is happy reinventing broadcast technology (he effortlessly knocks together a method of beaming radio signals via satellite), Jimmy falls for country music queen Cleo Michaels. He also starts popping pills as his radio empire becomes too large for him to handle. Venture capitalism transforms the nice, idealistic Jimmy into the mean, big-spending Mr. Gill, who's forced to account for these and darker sins when DeWayne George, now a professional hoodlum, tries to take everything away from him. A chastened Jimmy forsakes the world of big-time radio for a loving family and a backwoods station where he can play what he wants.

A trite melodrama buries what could have been a savvy insider tale.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781478362944
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication date: 8/3/2012
  • Pages: 356
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Don Keith had a 22-year career in radio broadcasting in which he was twice named BILLBOARD MAGAZINE "Radio Personality of the Year" and won every major award ifor broadcast journalism n his state from United Press and the AP. He is an award-winning and best-selling author and has published over two-dozen books on subjects including college sports, WWII history, NASCAR racing, broadcasting, submarines, and more. He lives with his wife, Charlene, in Indian Springs Village, Alabama, and is active in literacy efforts and his hobby of choice: amateur radio. His web site is www.donkeith.com
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