Friday, August 31, 2007

Library's Executive Director on the Road

Over the last month, our executive director, Alex Magoun, been traveling: first to the Antique Radio Club of Illinois's RadioFest in Willowbrook, and then to the Antique Wireless Association's annual meeting in Henrietta, NY, south of Rochester. These are two of the premier gatherings of radio collectors, buffs, historians, and enthusiasts, and the amount of information and artifacts they oversee could fill a wiki.

You can see Alex's captioned photo tour of the RadioFest here. It doesn't include the visit to the new Hawthorne Works Museum at Morton College in Cicero. The stunning displays of Western Electric's enormous factory and community during the 20th century offset the factual errors, and they're worth a couple of hours of your time in Chicago. The strength of the Midwest meeting, for now, is its market (the quality of the offerings makes it hard to qualify with "flea"); Alex joined a fine group of speakers with a one-hour PowerPoint presentation on RCA and the Innovation of Electronic Television, 1929-1949.

Three weeks later he drove to Henrietta and the RIT Conference Center to speak on an even bigger topic to an even bigger audience. Over 80 people listened and watched attentively as Alex distilled the 200+ pages of his new book, Television: The Life Story of a Technology (Greenwood, June 2007) into a little over an hour's worth of slides. Despite the controversies and complexities, the crowd was receptive and complimentary. He was surprised and gratified that night at the awards banquet to have AWA president Geoffrey Bourne and long-time member and television historian Richard Brewster present him with the 2007 J. P. Taylor Award for a "significant accomplishment in the field of television." Covering the birth, growth, diffusion, and decline of television as a discrete system in one slim volume is no mean feat. But don't take my and the AWA's word for it: ask your local librarian!

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