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 Reader, 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 Finn, and A Christmas Carol to recently published works as The Bridges at Toko-Ri 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 Reader is heard across the country by an audience of over one-million.
Dick Estell The Radio Reader Public Radio's Reading Program