Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio
|Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio|
DVD release cover
|Directed by||Ken Burns|
|Produced by||Ken Burns, Morgan Wesson, Tom Lewis|
|Screenplay by||Geoffrey Ward|
|Based on||Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio
by Tom Lewis
|Narrated by||Jason Robards|
|Editing by||Paul Barnes|
|Studio||Florentine Films, WETA|
|Running time||100 minutes|
Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio is a non-fiction book by Tom Lewis, a history of radio in the United States, published by HarperCollins in 1991. The book was adapted into both a 1992 documentary film by Ken Burns and a 1992 radio drama written and directed by David Ossman. The source of the title is from a quote by Lee DeForest.
Ken Burns' documentary first aired on PBS on January 29, 1992, narrated by actor Jason Robards. The film focused primarily on the three pioneers of radio in America—David Sarnoff, Lee DeForest and Edwin Armstrong—it did not ignore Guglielmo Marconi and Reginald Fessenden but makes no mention of Nikola Tesla. The program interspersed audio and musical highlights of "old time" radio with the stories, achievements, failures, scams and bitter feuds between each of the main protagonists. Among those featured is radio and television historian Erik Barnouw.
Broadcast on public radio, the Ossman radio drama originated in 1992 from Washington's WETA-FM. The cast included Steve Allen, Jayne Meadows, Bonnie Bedelia, David Ogden Stiers, Ed Asner, Harry Shearer, John Astin, John Randolph, Norman Corwin, Peter Bergman, Philip Proctor and Rene Auberjonois.