Born in KY. Education: Vanderbilt University, B.A. (English); Webster University, M.A. (marketing, management).
Home—Louisville, KY. Agent—c/o McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, P.O. Box 611, Jefferson, NC 28640.
Writer and educator. McKendree College, Lebanon, IL, professor, retired.
Stanich Award, 2002.
The Great Radio Soap Operas, McFarland & Co. (Jefferson, NC), 1999.
The Great Radio Audience Participation Shows: Seventeen Programs from the 1940s and 1950s, McFarland & Co. (Jefferson, NC), 2001.
Radio Crime Fighters: Over 300 Programs from the Golden Age, McFarland & Co. (Jefferson, NC), 2002.
Say Goodnight, Gracie: The Last Years of Network Radio, McFarland & Co. (Jefferson, NC), 2002.
Frank and Anne Hummert's Radio Factory: The Programs and Personalities of Broadcasting's Most Prolific Producers, McFarland & Co. (Jefferson, NC), 2003.
Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons, McFarland & Co. (Jefferson, NC), 2004.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
The Great Radio Music Programs, for McFarland.
Jim Cox is a retired college professor who has written several books about radio in its golden years, otherwise known as Old Time Radio. As a researcher and compiler, Cox has written about the crime shows, audience participation shows, and soap operas that filled the airwaves from the 1930s to the early 1960s.
Born in Kentucky and raised in North Carolina and Florida, Cox was an avid radio listener as a youth. "My initial recollections of radio are of my family gathered together in our living room listening to Fred Allen, Bergen and McCarthy, McGee and Mill and others of that ilk while watching my parents laughing themselves silly at jokes I didn't understand," Cox noted in an interview for Radio Recall. For Cox and his family, as for millions of other Americans at the time, radio was the primary form of entertainment. He also began early on to write about the subject, penning a column for a local newsletter as an adolescent and writing radio plays that were produced at his junior high school. By the 1960s, Cox—by then a college professor—started to collect radio memorabilia, including old recordings and books. He kept looking for the book he wanted to read about Old Time Radio, but it was never published, Finally, he decided, as he told Radio Recall, that "if it was ever to be it was up to me."
Cox's first radio book, The Great Radio Soap Operas, deals with thirty-one classic dramas that were serialized from the 1930s until the beginning of the 1960s. Some of the shows chosen for the study include Our Gal Sunday, The Guiding Light, Young Doctor Malone, Just Plain Bill, Lorenzo Jones, and The Romance of Helen Trent, programs that foreshadowed the soap operas of television. Typical of Cox's other books on Old Time Radio, this one provides an introduction to the topic, a discussion of each program and how it fit into the larger picture of similar programs, and also a discussion of individual programs along with lists of production staff and actors. Reviewing the book in Choice, C. Sterling noted that Cox "combines a fair bit of historical research and assessments of prior writing about soaps with experience listening to them." Sterling further felt that Cox's title "is one of the better references" about its subject. Similarly, a Booklist reviewer found the same book a "worthy addition to the literature of broadcasting history."
Cox focuses on quiz shows and talk-variety programs with The Great Radio Audience Participation Shows: Seventeen Programs from the 1940s and 1950s. Here he examines such classics as Double or Nothing, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, and You Bet Your Life. Remarking in a Choice review that the "book is specialized in nature," D. Highsmith went on to praise Cox's "informal writing style [that] makes it accessible to readers at all levels." A Booklist contributor felt that the "entries are interesting to read, with some fun facts about the history of radio in general."
Say Goodnight, Gracie: The Last Years of Network Radio chronicles the decline of radio, using both secondary and primary sources, including interviews with those who worked in radio at the time. Library Journal's Susan M. Colowick cited the work as a "lively if flawed account." Cox also turns his attention to radio crime shows, both in Radio Crime Fighters: Over 300 Programs from the Golden Age and Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons, an examination of a show that lasted almost two decades on radio, with 1,690 broadcasts. In Frank and Anne Hummert's Radio Factory: The Programs and Personalities of Broadcasting's Most Prolific Producers, Cox focuses on one production team during radio's heyday.
Cox explained his motivation in writing about Old Time Radio in his Radio Recall online interview, noting that "there is precious little money" to be made in writing the kinds of books he does. "But that's not why any of us are pursuing these tasks," he added.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2000, review of The Great Radio Soap Operas, p. 974; June 1, 2002, review of The Great Radio Audience Participation Shows: Seventeen Programs from the 1940s and 1950s, p. 1772.
Choice, January, 2000, C. Sterling, review of The Great Radio Soap Operas, p. 923; March, 2002, D. Highsmith, review of The Great Radio Audience Participation Shows, p. 1230.
Library Journal, September 1, 2002, Susan M. Colowick, review of Say Goodnight, Gracie: The Last Years of Network Radio, pp. 186-187.
Radio Recall,http://www.mwotrc.com/rr.htm (December, 2003), "Interview with Jim Cox, Prominent OTR (Old Time Radio) Author, Researcher."*