Engelman (Journalism/Long Island Univ.; Public Radio and Television in America: A Political History, 1996) examines the life and career of influential and controversial news producer Fred Friendly (1915–98), best known for his long association with crusading journalist Edward R. Murrow. Born Ferdinand F. Wachenheimer, Friendly was one of the most profoundly influential figures in the history of broadcast journalism. After successfully producing a series of innovative news programs for radio, he caught the attention of CBS News, where he teamed with Murrow to create Hear It Now and See It Now, radio and TV documentary series that re-created historic events for audiences. The Friendly/Murrow partnership capitalized on these successes to pursue increasingly provocative subject matter, such as an investigation of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anticommunist campaign, that frequently brought them into conflict with CBS founder William Paley. Named head of CBS News in 1964, Friendly resigned his post two years later when the network refused to preempt a rerun of I Love Lucy for live coverage of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee’s hearings on Vietnam. Dramatic, outsized, principled and self-promoting (he sent his letter of resignation to the New York Times), this action encapsulated the many contradictions at the heart of Friendly’s persona. Quotes from colleagues and friends describe him by turns as dynamic and domineering, warm and bullying and passionately idealistic and wearyingly petulant. Friendly continued to wield vast influence over his field after leaving CBS. He taught at Columbia’s Journalism School, established a highly regarded series of public seminars on media and virtually invented the concept of public television. Engelman’s comprehensive research—he cites the dyslexic Ferd Wachenheimer’s school report cards—brings his driven subject into vivid relief. The prose may be dryly academic, but the man, his times and his achievements come through.
A substantial and useful study of the underknown pioneer whose conviction and energy did much to shape the content and character of American broadcast journalism.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)