Keith, Michael C. 1945-

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Keith, Michael C. 1945-

(Michael Curtis Keith)

PERSONAL: Born 1945, in Albany, NY; children: Marlo. Ethnicity: “Anglo.” Education: University of Rhode Island, B.A. (with honors), 1975, M.A., 1977, and Ph.D. Hobbies and other interests: Collecting vintage radio receivers, cinema history, media analysis.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of Communication, 21 Campanella Hall, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3804. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Roger Williams College, Bristol, RI, adjunct instructor in communications, 1977-78; Dean College, Franklin, MA, associate professor of communications and director of radio and television program, 1978-90, chair of department of humanities and communication arts, 1988-89; George Washington University, Washington, DC, visiting professor of communications, 1990-92; Museum of Broadcast Communications, Chicago, IL, chair of education, 1992-93; Boston College, Boston, MA, associate professor of communications, 1993—. Emerson College, adjunct professor, 1989-90; Marquette University, visiting professor, 1992-93; Newbury College, distinguished lecture series speaker, 1999. Worked for a dozen broadcast stations as account executive, news reporter, production director, announcer, promotion director, and copywriter, between 1966 and 1983. Lecturer at conferences. Military service: U.S. Army; served in Korea.

MEMBER: American Association of University Professors, Broadcast Educators Association, Antique Wireless Association, Popular Culture Association, Society to Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety, and Comedy, Intercollegiate Broadcasting System, Old Time Radio National Archive Foundation, Broadcast Pioneers Library, Library of American Broadcasting.

AWARDS, HONORS: Recognition award, Intercollegiate Broadcasting System; Distinguished Scholar Award, Broadcast Education Association; Stanton Fellow Award, International Radio Television Society; Achievement Award in the Humanities, University of Rhode Island.


Production in Format Radio Handbook, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1984.

The Radio Station, Focal Press (Boston, MA), 1986, 7th edition, 2007.

Radio Programming: Consultancy and Formatics, Focal Press (Boston, MA), 1987.

Broadcast Voice Performance, Focal Press (Boston, MA), 1989.

Radio Production: Art and Science, Focal Press (Boston, MA), 1990.

(With Robert L. Hilliard) The Broadcast Century and Beyond, Focal Press (Boston, MA), 1990, 4th edition, 2005.

Selling Radio Direct, Focal Press (Boston, MA), 1992.

Signals in the Air: Native Broadcasting in America, Praeger (Westport, CT), 1995.

Global Broadcasting Systems, Focal Press (Boston, MA), 1996.

Voices in the Purple Haze: Underground Radio and the Sixties, Praeger (Westport, CT), 1997.

The Hidden Screen: Low-Power Television in America, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 1999.

(With Robert L. Hilliard) Waves of Rancor: Tuning in the Radical Right, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 1999.

Talking Radio: An Oral History of American Radio in the Television Age, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 2000.

(With Ed Shane) Disconnected America: The Consequences of Mass Media in a Narcissistic World, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 2000.

(With Phyllis Johnson) Queer Airwaves: Gay and Lesbian Broadcasting in America, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 2001.

Sounds in the Dark: All-Night Radio in American Culture, Iowa State University Press (Ames IA), 2001.

(With Robert L. Hilliard) Dirty Discourse: Sex and Indecency in American Radio, Iowa State University Press (Ames, IA), 2001, 2nd edition, Blackwell (Malden, MA), 2007.

The Next Better Place: A Father and Son on the Road (memoir), Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2003.

(Editor, with Christopher H. Sterling) The Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Radio, three volumes, Fitzroy Dearborn (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Robert L. Hilliard) The Quieted Voice: The Rise and Demise of Localism in American Radio, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 2005.

(Editor) Radio Cultures: The Sound Medium in American Life, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 2008.

(With Christopher H. Sterling) Sounds of Change: A History of FM Broadcasting in America, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 2008.

Radio editor, World Book Encyclopedia. Contributor to anthologies, including Radio: The Forgotten Medium, Transaction Books, 1995; and Focal Guide to Electronic Media, edited by Christopher H. Sterling, Focal Press (Boston, MA), 1997. Coeditor of the series “Media, Communication, and Culture in America,” M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY). Contributor to periodicals, including RadioActive, Feedback, Signals, Rhode Island, Journal of College Radio, Radio Waves, Media Ethics Journal, Media Studies Journal, and Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media. Features and forum editor, Journal of Radio Studies; radio editor, Communication Booknotes Quarterly.

SIDELIGHTS: Michael C. Keith has written numerous books on the history and practice of radio broadcasting. His works are frequently used as textbooks in communications courses at the university level, and Keith is himself a professor of communications. In Talking Radio: An Oral History of American Radio in the Television Age, the author uses interviews with many radio personalities and authorities to examine what has happened to the radio industry since the end of World War II. It was then that radio reached its peak of popularity, only to rapidly decline as television came to the fore. He traces the medium’s “transformation from a source of drama and news to an outlet for music, the advent of FM and transistor radios, discrimination in broadcasting, and the future of the medium,” reported a Publishers Weekly reviewer. His conversational partners include Walter Cronkite, Dick Clark, Paul Harvey, Studs Terkel, and the cofounder of National Public Radio, William Siemering.

Keith has collaborated more than once with another communications professor, Robert L. Hilliard. In their book Waves of Rancor: Tuning in the Radical Right, they explore the phenomenon of “hate media” in what Library Journal reviewer Donna L. Schulman termed an “intriguing but ultimately uneven book.” As with Talking Radio, interviews are the foundation of Waves of Rancor, which categorizes the wide variety of radical right groups who use radio, television, and the Internet to further their causes. Waves of Rancor also provides brief sketches of some of the leading purveyors of “hate media,” as the authors describe it, including Rush Limbaugh, David Duke, and Chuck Harder.

The Next Better Place: A Father and Son on the Road (2003) strays far from Keith’s typical subject matter. It is the memoir of a year that the eleven-year-old boy spent meandering across the country with his ne’er-do-well father, Curt. The year was 1959, and Curt was hoping to find entry-level work in the hotel industry in California. The trip from Albany, New York, took months by bus and the thumb of the hitchhiker, interrupted frequently when the money ran out and Curt picked up temporary jobs to pay for food. It was a dusty, seedy trip, often funded by handouts and the charity of strangers, often delayed by Curt’s alcoholic lapses and the resulting hangovers. Yet, to a young boy, it was an adventure, one that Keith reportedly found almost dangerously alluring at the time and one that he later remembered with warmth and nostalgia. Library Journal reviewer Janet Ross recommended Keith’s “vision of a world that is rarely threatening and always full of promise and adventure.” Similarly a Kirkus Reviews contributor described The Next Better Place as “a relentlessly gritty but good-humored tale of hope and survival.”

Keith once told CA: “Ernest Hemingway suggested writing one true sentence. He also recommended writing on subjects with which you are most familiar. Following his advice has allowed me to start a project and complete it. Be focused, organized, and disciplined.”



Keith, Michael C., The Next Better Place: A Father and Son on the Road, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2003.


Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, summer, 1988, Lynne Gross, review of Radio Programming: Consultancy and Formatics, p. 367; winter, 1988, review of Radio Programming, p. 126; summer, 1989, review of Broadcast Voice Performance, p. 34.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of The Next Better Place: A Father and Son on the Road, p. 1448.

Library Journal, May 15, 1999, Donna L. Schulman, review of Waves of Rancor: Tuning in the Radical Right, p. 110; December, 2002, Janet Ross, review of The Next Better Place, p. 141; May 15, 2003, Nancy R. Ives, review of The Next Better Place, p. 144.

Publishers Weekly, November 22, 1999, review of Talking Radio: An Oral History of American Radio in the Television Age, p. 53; August 19, 2002, review of The Next Better Place, p. 73.