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Alfred Balk Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Balk, Alfred, 1930-2010.
Title: Alfred Balk Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1925-2010
Quantity: 19 linear ft.
Abstract: Research material, writings, audiorecordings, periodicals, amassed by journalist, editor and radio scholar Alfred Balk over the course of his writing and teaching career.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Alfred Balk (1930-2010) was an American journalist, editor, and non-fiction author in several fields including radio and television history.

Born in Oskaloosa, Iowa on July 24, 1930, Alfred Balk graduated from Northwestern University with a BA and MA in journalism. He was feature editor and editor at large for the Saturday Review (1966-1969), editor of the Columbia Journalism Review (1969-1973) and founding editor of the World Press Review, where he worked from 1973 to 1986. Later in his career he served as managing editor of IEEE Spectrum, the magazine of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (1989-1991). In 1963 Balk and Alex Haley co-wrote "Black Merchants of Hate," an article on Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam; according to the New York Times, the article "was a major factor in Haley's future book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

In addition to his journalistic pursuits, he wrote for national magazines including the Saturday Evening Post and Harper's, was the author of several books, and taught at both Syracuse University and Columbia University.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Alfred Balk Papers consists of research files, most related to Balk's book The Rise of Radio; printed material (books, catalogs, newsletters, periodicals); recordings in various media (VHS tapes, audiocassettes, record albums) of classic radio and television programs and special broadcasts relating to the topic; oral history project interviews; and radio advertising premiums from Ovaltine, Wheaties, and other products.

The collection has received minimal processing, and the inventory which follows is a simple box listing.

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Arrangement of the Collection

The collection has been arranged according to the groupings given above, but within the groupings little other arrangement has been done. Folders for the most part retain the donor's original titles and ordering.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

A number of published books and monographs have been transferred to Rare Books or to the general circulating collection for cataloging. For a complete listing, please refer to the finding aids files, or search the Classic Catalog for the phrase "Gift of Alfred Balk."

Special Collections Research Center has extensive holdings in journalism and in radio and television history. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

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Subject Headings


Balk, Alfred, 1930-2010.

Associated Titles

Rise of radio.


Popular culture -- United States.
Radio -- History.
Radio broadcasting -- United States -- History.
Radio programs -- United States -- History.

Genres and Forms

78 rpm records.
Catalogs (documents)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Long-playing records.
Manuscripts for publication.
Oral histories (literary works)
Research notes.
Sound recordings.



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Alfred Balk Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Alfred Balk, 2010.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: PRB
Date: 16 Nov 2010
Revision history: 17 Apr 2014 - box numbers changed and inventory updated (MBD)

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Research files
Box 1 "About the Collection" by Alfred Balk (typewritten manuscript)
Box 1 Transcripts and interview notes
Box 16-17 Source tapes (audiocassettes)
Box 1 Picture files
For book, The Rise of Radio
Box 2 General
Box 2 End notes
Box 2 Introduction
Box 3 Chapters 1-23
Box 4 Chapters 24-34
Box 4 Archives/people to contact
Box 4 Radio's roots
Box 4 Pre-radio
Box 5 Embryo years
Box 6 Stations
Box 7 Networks
Box 7 Controversies
Box 8 Programs/stars
Box 9 Programs/stars (continued)
Box 10 Personalities
Box 10 Before the fall
Box 10 Networks/transition to TV
Box 10 Statistics
Box 10 Issues
Box 11 Issues (continued)
Box 11 Network anniversary commemorative publications
Box 12 Miscellaneous
Printed material
Box 13 Barlow, William Voiceover: the making of Black radio, Temple University Press, 1999
Box 13 Barnouw, Erik, Media marathon, Duke University Press, 1996
Box 13 Barnouw, Erik, The image empire: A history of broadcasting in the United States volume 3, Oxford University Press, 1970
Box 13 Brokenshire, Norman, This is Norman Brokenshire: an unvarnished self-portrait, D. McKay Co., 1954
Box 13 Cohen, Hal L. ed. 1922 Montgomery Ward catalogue. Reprinted in its original form..., HC Publishers, 1969
Box 13 Cox, Jim, Frank and Anne Hummert's radio factory: the programs and personalities of broadcasting's most prolific producers, McFarland & Co., 2003
Box 13 Douglas, Alan, Radio manufacturers of the 1920s (3 vol.), Vestal Press 1991
Box 13 Douglas, Susan J., Inventing American broadcasting, 1899-1922, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987
Box 13 Greb, Gordon B., Charles Herrold, inventor of radio broadcasting, McFarland & Co., 2003
Box 13 Hilliard, Robert L., The quieted voice: the rise and demise of localism in American radio, Southern Illinois University Press, 2005
Box 13 Hilmes, Michele, Radio voices: American broadcasting, University of Minnesota Press, 1997
Box 13 Shayon, Robert Lewis, Odyssey in prime time: a life in twentieth century media, Waymark Press, 2001
Box 13 Slide, Anthony, Great radio personalities in historic photographs, Vestal Press, 1988
Box 13 Sterling, Christopher, Stay tuned: a concise history of American broadcasting, Wadsworth, 1990 - inscribed by author
Box 13 Terrace, Vincent, Radio program openings and closings, 1931-1972, McFarland & Co., 2003
Box 13 Tumbusch, Tom, Tomart's price guide to radio premium and cereal box collectibles, including comic character, pulp hero, and other premiums, Tomart Publications, 1991
Box 13 United States. Bureau of Human Nutrition, Aunt Sammy's radio recipes revised, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931
Box 13 Weaver, Pat, The best seat in the house: the golden years in radio and television, Knopf, 1994
Box 13 Wertheim, Arthur Frank, Radio comedy, Oxford University Press, 1979
Box 14 Miscellaneous
Newsletters and other publications of broadcasting-related organizations and fan clubs
Box 14 Antique Radio Club of Illinois
Box 14 Antique Wireless Association
Box 14 California Historical Radio Society
Box 14 The Cinnamon Bear Brigade
Box 14 Friends of Vic and Sade
Box 14 Golden Radio Buffs of Maryland, Inc
Box 14 International Jack Benny Fan Club
Box 14 Library of American Broadcasting
Box 14 Media Heritage Archives
Box 14 Mid-Atlantic Antique Radio Club
Box 14 Museum of Broadcasting
Box 14 National Lum & Abner Society
Box 14 Old Time Radio Club
Box 14 Pittsburgh Antique Radio Society
Box 14 Radio and Television Museum Bowie, MD
Box 14 Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound
Box 14 Radio Historical Society of Colorado
Box 14 Society to Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety and Comedy
Box 15 Billboard Jan 20, 1934
Box 15 Broadcasting Dec 9,1991
Box 15 Colliers Jul 5, 1947
Box 15 Hit Parader Apr 1943
Box 15 Model Fun Jul 1955
Box 15 Literary Digest 9/19/1925, 10/31/1925, 1/30/1926, 5/22/1926, 5/29/1926
Box 15 Look 2/1/1949, 1/2/1951
Box 15 Nostalgia Digest Spring 2010
Box 15 Popular Radio Sept 1922
Box 15 Radio Guide 11/30/1935, 11/20/1937
Box 15 Radio Digest 8/1/1930, June 1932 - cover only for 1932 issue
Box 15 Radio Mirror 12/1/1946
Box 15 Radio News Dec 1930
Box 15 Radio Romances Jun 1945
Box 15 Radio Stars Oct 1932
Box 15 Radio and Television Mirror 8/1/1948, 7/1/1949
Box 15 Radio Television Mirror Mar 1951
Box 15 Radio Topics Sept 1922
Box 15 Radio-TV Mirror Jan 1953
Box 15 Radioland May 1934
Box 15 Sheet Music Sept/Oct 1991, May/Jun 1995, Sept/Oct 1995, May/Jun 1996, Nov/Dec 1996, Sept/Oct 1997, Nov/Dec 1998
Box 15 Tower Radio Apr 1934
Box 15 Tune In Oct 1945
Box 15 WLS Weekly Mar 16, 1935
Video cassettes
Box 16 Amos and Andy: Check and Double Check (1 VHS cassette)
CDs and DVDs
Box 16 Bill and Seemah Idelson: REPS Showcase (June 2005) (1 compact disc)
Box 16 Bill Idelson's Memorial (Writers Guild Theatre, 2/21/2008) (1 compact disc)
Box 16 Cincinnati Radio: The Nation's Station (1921-1941) (3 compact discs)
Box 16 Cincinnati Radio: The War Years (1941-1945) (2 compact discs)
Box 16 From the Nation's Capital (George Washington University) (1 compact disc)
Box 16 Franklyn MacCormack, Vols. 1-3 (5 compact discs)
Box 16 The Poet Laureate of Radio: An Interview with Norman Corwin (1 DVD)
Box 16 Radio Classics: The Bickersons (1 compact disc)
Box 16 Radio Classics: Lum & Abner (1 compact disc)
Phonograph records
Oversize 2 The Jack Benny Album
Oversize 2 Do It on the Radio
Oversize 2 Edward R. Murrow: A Reporter Remembers (Vol. 1: The War Years)
Oversize 2 Great Moments in Radio
Oversize 2 I Can Hear It Now/The Sixties
Oversize 2 Fibber McGee and Molly
Oversize 2 The Nostalgic Sounds and Voices of Old Time Radio
Oversize 2 Radio Plays the Plaza
Oversize 2 Remember the Golden Days of Radio (2 vol.)
Oversize 2 Vic and Sade
Oversize 2 When Radio Was King: Mr. District Attorney
Audiocassettes, commercially produced
Box 16 America Before TV: A Day from the Golden Age of Radio (September 21, 1939) (12 audio cassettes)
Box 16 Baby Snooks (6 audio cassettes)
Box 16 The Best of Abbott and Costello (1 audio cassette)
Box 16 The Best of Fred Allen (2 audio cassettes)
Box 16 Comedy Classics: Abbot and Costello, Vol. 1 (1 audio cassette)
Box 16 Duffy's Tavern (6 audio cassettes)
Box 16 Golden Age of Comedy (1 audio cassette)
Box 16 Greatest Old-Time Radio Christmas Shows, Selected by Andy Williams: The Jack Benny Program (12/5/1954) (1 audio cassettes)
Box 16 Greatest Shows of the 20th Century, Selected by Walter Cronkite: The Life of Riley (6/19/1948) (2 audio cassettes)
Box 16 The Best of Groucho Marx (1 audio cassette)
Box 16 I Can Hear It Now, Featuring Edward R. Murrow: 30 Years of Audible History (1919-1949) (1 audio cassette)
Box 16 The Jack Benny Program (2 audio cassettes)
Box 16 Mercury Theatre On the Air: War of the Worlds and Dracula (2 audio cassettes)
Box 16 National Barn Dance (2 audio cassettes)
Box 16 Old Radio Classics: Radio Commercials (1 audio cassette)
Box 16 Old Time Radio's Greatest Shows (20 audio cassettes)
Box 16 Radio Reruns: CBS News Roundup: Pearl Harbor Attacked (12/7/1941)
Box 16 The Red Skelton Show (1 audio cassette)
Audiocassettes, homemade
Box 17 Abbott and Costello
Box 17 The Fred Allen Show
Box 17 Amos and Andy
Box 17 The Andrew Sisters
Box 17 Gene Autry
Box 17 Avalon
Box 17 Barn Dance
Box 17 Baby Snooks
Box 17 Jack Benny
Box 17 Edgar Bergen
Box 17 Milton Berle
Box 17 Best of the Big Band Singers
Box 17 Beulah
Box 17 The Bickersons
Box 16 Big Band Jam Sessions/Themes Like Old Times
Box 16 Billion Dollar Show
Box 17 Bob and Ray
Box 17 Burns and Allen
Box 17 Can You Top This?
Box 17 Judy Canova
Box 17 Eddie Cantor
Box 17 Jack Carson
Box 17 Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street
Box 17 Chase and Sanborn Hour
Box 17 Dr. I.Q.
Box 17 Dragnet
Box 17 Duffy's Tavern
Box 17 Jimmy Durante Show
Box 17 Easy Aces
Box 17 Good News of 1938
Box 17 Benny Goodman
Box 18 Grand Ole Opry
Box 18 Hawaii Calls
Box 18 Bob Hope Show
Box 18 I Love a Mystery
Box 18 Information Please
Box 18 George Jessel
Box 18 Spike Jones Spotlight
Box 18 Danny Kaye Show
Box 18 Lone Ranger
Box 18 Lum & Abner
Box 18 Lux Radio Theatre
Box 18 Majestic Theatre of the Air
Box 18 Manhattan Merry Go Round
Box 18 March of Time
Box 18 Martin and Lewis
Box 18 Maxwell House Showboat
Box 18 Glenn Miller
Box 18 Moon River
Box 18 Henry Morgan Show
Box 17 One Night Stand
Box 17 Our Miss Brooks
Box 17 Jack Paar Show
Box 17 Philco Radio Hall of Fame
Box 17 Red Ryder
Box 17 Red Skelton Show
Box 17 Kate Smith Show
Box 17 Texaco Star Theatre
Box 17 Town Hall Tonight
Box 17 Rudy Vallee Hour
Box 17 Victory Parade
Box 17 The Village Store
Box 17 Fred Waring
Box 17 Paul Whiteman Presents
Box 17 Ed Wynn
Box 17 Your Hit Parade
Specials and commemorative, historical and anniversary broadcasts
Box 17 And Now a word from Our Sponsor
Box 17 Biography in Sound
Box 17 Frank Bresee KNUS
Box 17 Johnny Carson's Half Century of Comedy
Box 17 CBS at 50
Box 17 Command Performance
Box 17 Crowd Went Wild
Box 17 Destination Freedom
Box 17 GI Journal
Box 17 Golden Days of Radio
Box 17 Greek War Relief
Box 17 Guest Star
Box 17 Bob Hope Show Spoofs
Box 17 I Can Hear It Now
Box 17 Japanese Surrender, ABC
Box 17 H. V. Kaltenborn, News
Box 17 Jerome Kern Memorial
Box 17 KDKA
Box 17 KSAC Anniversary
Box 17 Mutual, Don Lee Dedication
Box 17 NBC 40th Anniversary
Box 17 On a Note of Triumph
Box 17 Radio Themes
Box 17 Radio's First 50 Years
Box 17 Radio's Superheroes at War
Box 17 This Was Radio
Box 17 USO Farewell Program
Box 17 Voices of Two Game [ESPN]
Box 17 World War II Chronicles
Oral History Project
Box 16-17 Taped Interviews
Radio advertising premiums
Oversize 1 Hafner 1010-13 wind-up train set (green/copper) premium from Coco Wheats premium, Happy Hank program circa 1945
Oversize 1 Enna Jettick Melodies songbook, Enna Jettick Shoes premium 1930
Oversize 1 Little Orphan Annie's Song, Ovaltine premium 1931
Oversize 1 Jack Armstrong Bombsight, Wheaties premium 1942
Oversize 1 Jack Armstrong Hike/O/Meter, Wheaties premium 1938
Oversize 1 Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooter Compass, Ralston premium 1936

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