Multimedia Collection

Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio

120 min
TK6545 .A1 E457 2010 DVD

For fifty years radio dominated the airwaves and the American consciousness as the first “mass medium.” This film by Ken Burns examines the lives of three extraordinary men who shared the primary responsibility for this invention and its early success, and whose genius, friendship, rivalry and enmity interacted in tragic ways. This is the story of Lee de Forest, a clergyman's flamboyant son, who invented the audition tube; Edwin Howard Armstrong, a brilliant, withdrawn inventor who pioneered FM technology; and David Sarnoff, a hard-driving Russian immigrant who created the most powerful communications company on earth.

Against the backdrop of radio's “Golden Age,” this fascinating back-stage drama tells the history of radio through archival photographs, newsreels of the period, and interviews with such well-known radio personalities as Garrison Keillor, sports commentator Red Barber, radio dramatist Norman Corwin and broadcast historian Erik Barnouw.

Narrator: Jason Robards. A film by Ken Burns ; produced by Ken Burns, Morgan Wesson, Tom Lewis ; written by Geoffrey C. Ward ; produced in association with WETA-TV, Washington.

Distributed by PBS Home Video.

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