I must explain first that I proudly worked closely with Alan Henry in writing this memoir. It was an inspiration to learn his life story and help define his lasting impact on the broadcasting industry. This is not simply a book about broadcasting. It is much more than that because it speaks of a time when young people with a passion could find supportive and helping hands to launch their career.
The broadcasting industry is approaching the 100th anniversary of the birth of America’s first commercial radio station, KDKA, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. KDKA signed on the air on November 20, 1920.
Emerging through the haze of broadcasting history come the names of individuals that transformed the emerging new technologies of radio and television into broadcast programming that attracted hundreds of millions of listeners and viewers.
Entertainment programming came to the new radio medium inherited from the vaudeville stage. Long form dramatic shows followed including scripted programs like Lux Radio Theater and comedies that included Amos and Andy and Burns and Allen. There were westerns Tom Mix, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and dozens of crime shows including the FBI in Peace and War, The Shadow and Mr. and Mrs. North. It was radio’s Golden Age.
When television exploded in American homes during the 1950s radio needed to reinvent itself by creating new and appealing programs and approaches to position itself for the future. Many stations adopted a Rock & Roll music format while others took a more adventurous, riskier and innovative approach and created what later became All News and Talk Radio.
This is the untold story of Alan Henry, a young boy left on a relative’s doorstep at an early age whom through self reliance, grit and imagination grew to be among America’s most successful radio and television broadcast entrepreneurs, innovators and executives.
Alan Henry took high risks to help create programming that is today universal across all media. Over the decades these formats have launched thousands of individual careers in radio, television, cable television and the Internet.
Alan Henry’s legacy has left an indelible mark on how Americans use the broadcast media in the 21st century. The book is available now at amazon.com and can be obtained through your local bookstore.