Thursday, September 25, 2014

You're On The Air

In 1941 William Heyliger published this gem through the D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc. My copy is a discard from the North Junior High school in Newburgh NY...and worth the $2.  Appleton-Century was not a large print house. Established in 1831 the company lasted over a century. They closed shop in 1948 following a company sale. It started strong, publishing the classic Uncle Remus in 1880 and The Red Badge of Courage in 1895.  But they declared bankruptcy in 1900 and never seemed to fully regroup.

William Heyliger wrote scholock. Well, somebody has to do it since so many people seem to want to read it. Heyliger wrote 3 books in the Boy Scouts "Don Strong" series back in 1918. For the most part, he wrote adventure books for boys... what in his era (1915 ~ 1915) was often called "Juvenile Literature." The books were usually series which encouraged serial buying.

The book was written in the golden era of radio and Heyliger was certainly old enough to have witnessed the rise of radio making him a fine person to write the story. The tale is about a young man breaking into radio and from his initial interest to his auditions to his initial work and then inevitable workplace drama. What's interesting is that it clearly mentions the names of non-existent radio programs "the Crunchy Bread Show,"  and the "Perfect-Burning Coal Program."  Three different radio stations local to this unnamed metro-area, but the call signs are deliberately non-standard: FFOM, FKIP and FWWO.

It did make me wonder if these were proxies for real radio stations. WKIP was founded in 1940, and both WOW and WOWO were on air at the time. (I also found a reference to a marine call sign WWO on the USS Aculpulco in 1911. I doubt there is any connection.) But I can't imagine how to transliterate FFOM. into a readable call sign. WWOM was a fine Louisiana free form rock station but not until the 1960s. My expectation is that Heyliger just made up the call signs and that they don't mean a thing.