The Radio Reader: The First 70 Years
The book-reading program on WKAR, Michigan State University's public radio
station, originated in 1936 and was called
The Radio Reading Circle.  
There was no regular reader and the program aired only 15 minutes a day.  
When Robert Coleman became the station's first full-time manager, he
lengthened the program to a half-hour each day, renamed it
The Radio
, and became the first permanent reader.  

Larry Frymire, Coleman's assistant and eventual successor as manager,
became the second permanent reader in 1944.  Frymire left WKAR Radio, for
a time, accepting a position at the FCC in Washington, D.C.  However, he
continued as the reader even while he was in Washington and continued
reading until his retirement from Michigan State University in 1964.  In that
year, Dick Estell was appointed general manager of WKAR Radio and
became the program's third permanent reader.

For the first several decades of
The Radio Reader's existence, the program
was heard only in the mid-Michigan area and book selections were somewhat
haphazard ranging from classics such as
Pride and Prejudice, Huckleberry
, and A Christmas Carol to recently published works as The Bridges at
and Doctor Zhivago.  When Dick became the reader, he focused the
program to presenting only newly published books.  As a result, interest in
The Radio Reader grew to the point that other public radio stations wanted
to air the program.  A network of stations was created and today
The Radio
is heard across the country by an audience of over one-million.
Dick Estell
The Radio Reader
Public Radio's Reading Program
Copyright © 2006 The Radio Reader. All rights reserved.
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