Professor Writes Book on Radio in the Movies

August 5, 2011

Professor Writes Book on Radio in the Movies


VALDOSTA -- What began as a presentation about radio in film at a conference has led VSU Associate Professor Dr. Laurence Etling to have his first book published. "Radio in the Movies: A History and Filmography, 1926-2010" was recently published by McFarland & Company, Inc., a leading publisher of non-fiction and academic books.

A former disc jockey for more than 15 years, Etling became interested in movies that featured radio stations and DJs a few years ago. His curiosity led him to research how many movies actually included radio for more than a year.

“I put together a paper with my findings and presented it at a Popular Culture Association conference three years ago,” Etling said.

The paper apparently piqued the interest of McFarland & Company. The North Carolina publishing company contacted Etling shortly after the conference about compiling his research for a book.

“I was very surprised because it was highly unusual. Authors usually contact the publishing companies and ask them to consider publishing their work. It is quite an honor to be asked by a publishing company to write a book.”

With instructions to compose a book of at least 70,000 words, Etling developed an outline organized into chapters, presented it to McFarland and signed a contract with the company in April 2009.

Etling spent the next two years viewing movies released as early at 1926 and noting how radio was portrayed in them.

“I’m sure I watched more than 550 movies during that time,” he said.

Etling’s finished work includes six chapters that focus on radio film themes, famous DJs, sports broadcasting, religious radio and psycho listeners in movies. Notable movies discussed in his book include “Talk to Me”, starring Don Cheadle, “Play Misty for Me”, starring Clint Eastwood and “Radio Days”, starring Woody Harrelson.

Through his extensive research, Etling found that several movies portray a realistic view of radio. Scenes from some movies were actually shot at real radio stations, he said.

“To the contrary, I also noticed that there is a lot of crime, particularly murder, connected with radio stations in movies. Directors seem to make a real connection murder and radio stations, which is far from reality.”

Etling credits the support of the VSU for the completion and publication of his book.

“Interim President Louis Levy was provost and vice president of Academic Affairs when he provided financial support for me to attend the conference and present my paper. Had I not had a presence at the conference, this opportunity would not have come to pass.”

Etling has been an associate professor at VSU since 1999. He works in the Communications Art Department and teaches radio announcing, television announcing and audio production.

"Radio in the Movies: A History and Filmography, 1926-2010" is currently listed on .