Friday, September 07, 2012

An Hour A Day With John F. Rider

 John F. Rider was one of the most prolific writers of radio instructional texts in the business. His series of Riders Perpetual Troubleshooter’s Manual went into 23 volumes of 6-inch thick reference books between 1928 and 1954. He was more prolific than even Hugo Gernsback and Howard W. Sams. the U.S. Army used his books during WWII to much success. His Basic Electronics series was used by Navy specialty schools. He was also a ham radio enthusiast, his call sign was W2RID.

Born in 1900 he grew up writing in the age of the vacuum tube, but lived long enough to write instructional on Superhetrodyne receivers, FM radio and television.  His texts were uniquely narrative, and readable to laypeople. The somewhat silly illustrations probably helped too. How silly?  Well, imagine little spherical "electrons" with antennae and wings waving their hands at the reader. More here.

Despite that his books were for serious learning. The "Hour a day" series was meant for home study and self teaching. He was a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Signal Corps. He worked on experimental radio apparatus in Baltimore among other things. After leaving the military he became an engineer at Alfred. H. Grebe Radio & Company, and later went on to write for for Hugo Gernsback's Radio Craft magazine. It has been said that they didn't get along, which is why Rider struck out on his own and founded John F. Rider Publications. His office was located at 401 Fourth Avenue, in New York. Hayden Publishing bought him out around 1955. They kept publishing Rider branded series until at least 1959. More here.

He was the recipient of the Legion of Merit medal, and the Ralph Batcher Memorial Award. He retired to Florida in 1963 and died in 1985, survived by a daughter, Janet.