Sunday, September 30, 2007
WLW AM http://www.700wlw.com/
WLWA FM, now WIZF: http://www.wizfm.com/
WLW TV, Cincinnati: http://www.wlwt.com/
WLWC TV, Columbus (now WCMH): http://www.nbc4i.com/
WLWD TV, Dayton (now WDTN): http://www.wdtn.com/
WLWI TV, Indianapolis (now WTHR): http://www.wthr.com/
WKRC AM (originally owned by Crosley as WMH): http://www.55krc.com/
WSAI AM: http://www.1360espn.com/
The Dayton, Columbus, and Indianapolis TV stations, together with WLW-T, made up the Crosley network. All were NBC afilliates, and carried some of the same homegrown programs, most notably Ruth Lyons' 50/50 Club. The 50/50 Club audio was simulcast on WLW radio. Crosley Broadcasting also operated WLWA FM in Cincinnati, WLWD FM in Dayton, WLW-A TV in Atlanta, and several other radio and television stations that were acquired by AVCO after it bought the Crosley broadcast properties.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Of course, literally everything and everyone could not be included in one book, but every aspect of the radio evolution is covered. Lots of fascinating people and anecdotes, too. The intro to Rush Limbaugh's story will surprise many readers, and the tale of Jean Shepherd's I, Libertine book hoax on WOR (aided and abetted by Ian Ballantine and Theodore Sturgeon) is worth the price of the book on its own. If you want a fascinating page-turner, Something in the Air is it.
But it was a job, and rail transportation from New York to Cincinnati was free, with return fare guaranteed if things didn’t work out. So Corwin interviewed for a job as a writer and was hired.
The low pay wasn’t enough to deter Corwin, but almost immediately he was finding fault with the working conditions. His office overlooked a factory (Gee, Norm, what did you expect—a wilderness view? Not near the Crosley factory—nor in midtown Manhattan.) It was too hot (put up some curtains and get a fan). And the studios were too cold (put on a coat). This probably motivated him to argue with management over a directive he didn’t like: a memo advising employees that strikes were not to be mentioned on the radio news. The original memo is shown above, the bottom of the two, dated May 20, 1935. You can see a larger, readable image by clicking on it, but it says, "No reference to strikes is to be made on any news bulletin broadcast over our stations" (referring to WLW and WSAI).
Corwin asked for clarification (though he was not in a position where he’d be saying anything into a microphone), and received the reply shown above on May 31. This memo reads, "Our news broadcasts, which you have already been told, and which has been our practice for some time, will not include mention of any strikes. This includes students' strikes and school walk-outs."
Not long after that he was let go. His boss told him that WLW was doing away with the news department. Naive, Corwin believed this. Until, that is, he got back to New York and showed a friend the memos. His friend set him straight, and Corwin eventually took the memo to attorney Mina Kassner at the Civil Liberties Union, who gave them to The Nation magazine. I think he did this in part on the advice of his friend, and in part because he was embarrassed to have been taken in.
The revelation of the memos generated some heat for Crosley Broadcasting, and thereafter news of strikes no longer completely banned from WLW and WSAI. Neither Powel nor Lewis Crosley signed the memos (that was left to a Mr. Ries), but the Crosleys were responsible for the ban; the corporate culture was based on the Crosleys’ beliefs and practices.. The Crosley Corporation had already had its fill of strikes (but would see more), and it’s a cinch that they figured it would be better if the radio didn’t put ideas in workers’ heads.
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks
Friday, September 28, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Clymer seemed to have an affinity for Crosley automotive products. He first gave Crosley automotive ink back in 1911 when Crosley built the De Cross cycle car. Clymer wrote it up in a now-unknown publication, and included its specs in a list of cycle cars in his famous book Early American Automobiles, published in 1955. Clymer also covered the Crosley car in other publications, including his 8-book "Motor Scrapbook" series. One of the volumes in that series features a 1916 display ad for Crosley's "Insyde Tyres" product.
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks
Monday, September 24, 2007
Click the image for a larger version. I have lots more shots of the camera (with and without its cover) and the studio to share.
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks
Sunday, September 23, 2007
The Hotshot ended production in 1952, and the Sprite began in 1958. The Sprite was designed by Englishman Donald Healey, who has a Crosley connection through Austin--a subject for another post. (Click for larger image.)
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Consider Sarnoff and his ego. He was a man who spent his life striving to compensate for his poor immigrant origins (he demanded the Army title of “General” in exchange for helping with the war effort). A man willing to lie on the historic record (the disproven tale of his “heroism” in connection with handling telegraph messges from the sinking Titanic, for example). A man willing to steal intellectual and pehaps other property (the Edwin Howard Armstrong tragedy), and badger and hound a foe to death (Armstrong again).
Consider Crosley. He came from less-than-humble origins, but also knew poverty. Crosley was wilfull and hard-headed like Sarnoff. He and Sarnoff were acquainted from the very earliest days of commercial broadcasting, beginning with the Hoover radio commission in the early 1920s. Crosley was one of the founders of the NAB (sans Sarnoff).
I suspect that Crosley and Sarnoff may well have locked horns at different points during the annual meetings of the Hoover Commission, but the real conflict began when Powel and Lewis Crosley figured out that they simply had to use the famous Armstrong circuit in their radios, or face being demolished by the competition. RCA controlled the patent and was not granting any new licenses for its use--especially not to the Crosley Manufacturing Company. After all, the Cincinnati manufacturer had caught RCA and the associated Westinghouse and General Electric off-guard and grabbed most of the early consumer market low-cost Crosley sets.
Powel first tried getting past the block by contracting with an Armstrong patent licensee (the Tri-City Manufacturing Company of Iowa) to build Crosley sets with the Armstrong circuit included. Three weeks later, Powel learned that an Armstrong-licensed radio manufacturer was for sale--in his hometown of Cincinnati, yet. Powel jumped at the opportunity, paying $40,000 for the Precision Equipment Company.
Crosley brought Precision’s “Ace” line of radios into his production facilities and began turning out Crosley and Ace sets, paying royalties to RCA all along. Ace was phased out over the next year. In the meantime, Sarnoff and other RCA executives took exception to Crosley, not an original, direct licensee of their patent, using the technology. So RCA filed suit. Crosley won the suit in 1927, earning the emnity of Sarnoff forever, and giving Sarnoff motivation.
What I believe may have happened is that Sarnoff used his connections with the press (he was on the spot with most of it in New York) to keep the spotlight off Crosley as much as possible. He outlived Crosley by a decade, and was in an excellent position to give the chroniclers of radio history his version of the story. How else can you explain the man who built most powerful commercial broadcast station ever, who sparked the massive consumer demand for radios and programming that marked the beginning of the broadcast industry--and more--not the history books?
Certainly, in his time Powel Crosley, Jr. was a business celebrity at least equal in stature to Bill Gates. He was in newspapers nationwide several times a month, and publications such as Time, Business Week, and Newsweek followed his activities closely. The Crosley Corporation sold merchandise in Europe, Africa, Asia, and elsewhere, and was responsible for innovations like the Shelvador that made "Crosley" a literal household name. He may have saved the Cincinnati Reds from leaving that city, and the Reds stadium was renamed Crosley Field in his honor. Whenever he bought a yacht or an airplane or built a mansion, it was news. But today ... who's Crosley?
If you've read the Crosley book, you know some of the story. How Crosley sold out his high-visibility businesses, the Crosley Corporation and WLW/Crosley Broadcasting, after World War II to focus on his car. Crosley Motors kept him in the news until 1952--when the company went out of business and was sold to Aerojet-General.
Suddenly, Crosley wasn't in the news anymore. And by this time both his namesake son (Powel Crosley, III) and grandson (Powel, IV) were dead. There was literally no one to carry on his name, though it has reappeared in the family.
Crosley appliances? AVCO killed the line in 1956 because they were getting killed in the marketplace. Crosley Broadcasting stayed in business, operated by AVCO, but in the early 1960s, after Powel's death, the company name was changed to AVCO Broadcsating. Eventually the TV and radio stations were sold off. Finally, the Reds moved out of Crosley Field in 1970. And then there was David Sarnoff ... but that's a subject for a post of its own.
There are few Crosley legacies ... a small charity that seeks donations ... the forgotten Crosley Lake at the Cincinnati Nature Center ... and the Powel Crosley Fish & Wildlife Area in Indiana ... a building at the University of Cincinnati that will probably be demolished in a few years ... a YMCA ... and little else (the once-mighty Crosley building stands empty and decaying) but for all intents and purposes Powel Crosley, Jr. was long-forgotten when I began research for CROSLEY in 2000, after considering writing the book for 30 years. Today, fewer people misspell "Powel," and a lot more people know his story. It's good to have him back in the collective memory.
Friday, September 21, 2007
The cute mini car of the era when I learned to drive was the Nash Metropolitan (I had one for a few months in 1967), and I was born after television stole the limelight from radio, but I still have early memories of Crosley cars and radios.
When I was four years old in 1955, a neighbor named Jack Griswold had a 1951 Crosley wagon. It was, as I would learn 52 years later, one of 14 he owned over the years. I used to go stand in his driveway and spin the propeller on the nose. That's a picture of the car in question--taken in 1955--at the top of this post. (Thanks, Jack!)
My early memories include a Crosley radio, too--a hulking console set that dominated the living room of my grandparents' small Ohio home.
Photo Copyright © 2007, Jack Griswold
Thursday, September 20, 2007
(For more details, see Crosley: Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
WLW's predecessor, Powel Crosley's 20-watt amateur station, was set up in Crosley's Davey Street home in College Hill, left. The first official WLW broadcast, at 50 watts, came from 1625 Blue Rock Street. The odd, wedge-shaped building is still there. I'll include a photo of the inside of that first studio in a later post.
In 1925, WLW and the Crosley Manufacturing Company moved to a complex at the corner of Colerain and Alfred Streets. The building was built into a hillside and used both 3401 Colerain and 200 Alfred Street as addresses. The broadcast studio and other Crosley operations outgrew these quarters, and in 1928 they moved into the new, special-built 8-story Crosley building at 1321 Arlington Street, just two blocks off Spring Grove Avenue in one of the most heavily industrialized areas of Cincinnati. The studios of WLW and WSAI occupied the entire 8th floor.
WLW remained here until World War II. The Crosley Corporation was doing war production work (including manufacturing the Top Secret proximity fuze), and Federal officials felt that having "radio people" going in and out of the Crosley building at all hours of the day and night was a security risk. So the company bought the Elks Lodge at the corner of Ninth and Elm Streets in downtown Cincinnati and moved WLW into new studios there (WSAI had by this time been sold, by government fiat). Not long after, WLW-TV was set up in its own building across Elm Street.
WLW Radio remained in the building until 1999, when it moved to 1111 St. Gregory Street in Mt. Adams, a part of Cincinnati known for its steep streets and bohemian residents. Early in the new century the station moved to its present location in the northeast Cincinnati suburb of Kenwood, perched on a hill overlooking I-71 descending into the city.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Crosley built both monoplanes and biplanes, like that shown to the left. The series was called "Moonbeam," and the one pictured is Moonbeam number C-3 (X147N). You can see it at the Kentucky Aviation Museum at Lexington, Kentucky's airport. It's owned by Dr. George Gumbert, who flew the aircrafti n from Arizona.
There were five Moonbeams. In among them, the company built the Cobra aircraft engine, and a skeletal power-glider. In 1934, years after the company folded, Crosley's pilot, Eddie Nirmaier, built the second example of the Mignet "Flying Flea." The Crosley-Mignet Flying Flea is on exhibit at the National Air & Space Museum, along with a trophy it won at a Miami air show. In the 1940s, Crosley automobile engines powered some different airplanes, a story for another post.
October 23, 2007, Green Township Branch Cincinnati Public Library, Cincinnati, 7:00 PM No charge. Call 369-6095 to register. Tom Miller will be there with this 1948 Crosley station wagon! That's it to the left. More info: (513) 369-6095.
October 29, 2007, Miami University Institute for Lifelong Learning, Oxford, Ohio, Noon. Call (513) 529-8600.I'll be sharing new facts and stories about Crosley autos, radios, the Crosleys themselves, and more. I'm bringing a number of Crosley artifacts from my collection to each program.
I am a special guest speaker at a charity event on September 29. In April, 2008, I will be giving a talk at the Cincinnati Old Time Radio Convention.. The first week of May, 2008, I will be doing a presentation at the Early Television Foundation's Convention. In June, 2008 I am the keynote speaker at the Mid-Atlantic Antique Radio Club's annual gathering (this is a large regional organization). Unless something else gets in the way, I hope to be at the Crosley Automobile Club's annual meet in July, and some writers' conferences and SF cons. More to come.
In the meantime, listen for me on WLW.
Monday, September 17, 2007
(In case you're wondering--yes, this is the same Murray that would become famous for making bicycles and childrens' pedal cars.)
The image here is a drawing for the body's design patent. I've overlaid it at the bottom with a photo of the 1939 Crosley. Click it to see a giant image.
Why did Crosley change the car? Some say he had a three-wheeled car in mind at first; he thought the novelty would generate interest. But he switched to the three-point chassis with the rear wheels just 18 inches apart when he discovered that a three-wheeler would be rather unstable. He went for the odd design to attract attention, and to save money. With the rear wheels close together, he could elimiate the rear differential, replacing it with a ring-and-pinion drive (thanks Jim). One prototype with the three-point layout was built, and was dubbed the CRAD (for Crosley Radio Automotive Division). But it had its own problems, and the final production model had wheels 40" apart, front and rear.
At first Crosley tried building the four-square cars without universal joints, anyway. He ended up having to add universal joints because drive shafts were breaking.
This would not be the last expensive mistake Crosley would make ...
The Crosley Automobile Club's new URL is: http://crosleyautoclub.com/
The Glamortone Gals gave visitors rides in new Crosleys on a closed track behind the Crosley building. Male stewards assisted passengers, too. New York Mayor LaGuardia was particularly taken with the little Crosley, demanding extra rides over the course and shouting "Mow 'em down!" as he rode past the crowds. The postcard shown above sort of says it all (click for full-size image).
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Industry and listener/viewers' perspectives are offered at John Kiesewetter's blog at the Cincinnati Enquirer web site. Kieswetter is an astutue observer who has covered television and radio, both locally and nationally, for many years.
WLW Radio offers contemporary talk, streaming audio and podcasting. It's also available at 700 on the AM dial (DX-ing, anyone?) and XM 173. Owned by Clear Channel.
WLW-T, Cincinnati's NBC television affiliate, is owned by Hearst-Argyle.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Errata and Addenda, version 1
Special thanks to Clyde Haehnle and Paula Gold Frank for help in preparing this document.
- Powel's first call letters were 8CR (per Clyde Haehnle).
- By Powel Crosley, Jr.’s own accounts, he and Lewis built their electric-powered buckboard in 1898, not 1900.
- WLW’s Harrison transmitter (1928) was not the first remote-controlled transmitter ever; it was the first transmitter remotely located from the studio. Remote control of broadcast transmitters was not authorized until 1980.
- The Senate resolution that limited Standard Broadcast stations to 50,000 watts in 1938 was railroaded through the Senate by Senator Burton Wheeler of Montana, not Tennessee. This was done on behalf of his constituent, Ed Craney, who wanted to construct a new station in Montana on 700 khz. Craney founded KFDC in 1922, and went on to found the Z-Bar Network and build Montana’s first television station.
- Crosley's Florida mansion is located in Manatee County, not "Sarasota County." The property is also owned by Manatee County.
- James D. Shouse's partner was Robert E. Dunville, not John Dunville. (Probably the result of confusion between Dunville and John T. Murphy, later President of AVCO Broadcasting Corp.)
- The Federal Trade Commission investigation into the Xervac was the reason Powell chose to incorporate the Broadcasting Division separately from the Crosley Corporation.
- When AVCO acquired Crosley Stock in 1945, the broadcast company was a wholly owned subsidiary, and AVCO lawyers neglected to seek FCC approval of the transfer. This caused the creation of the “AVCO Rule,” which mandates prior FCC approval of any change of ownership.
- The Crosley Broadcasting Corp. name was retained for 20 years after the sale of Crosley’s broadcasting properties to AVCO. When the AVCO conglomerate moved into a new round of expansion in 1965, the company changed Crosley Broadcasting to AVCO Broadcasting
- The speed limit on Spring Grove Avenue past the cemetery where the Crosley family plot is located is 35 mph, not 50.
- Two of the principal engineers on the Proximity Fuze project were George "Fritz" Leydorf and E.J.H. Bussard. Leydorf also took part in the development of WLW’s 500,000-watt transmitter.
There are several more; they need to be double-checked before being added to the list.
Antique Radio Classified features a story about the Crosley READO by yours truly. For the article, I managed to get an image of a sample of the READO "newspaper" FAX strip that was transmitted by WLW in July, 1939.
Skinned Knuckles features a three-page article about Italian variants of the Crosley in its September issue.
The April, 2007, issue of Radio Magazine contains a piece I did on the WLW Model Super-Power Radio Receiver, Crosley's 1936 response to Zenith's Stratosphere, which claimed the title of the world's largest receiver. I posted some additional info about this set here earlier.
Finally (and beginning to stretch the term "recent") there's an article about Crosley applause cards in the March, 2007, issue of Antique Radio Classified.
Friday, September 14, 2007
What about technical people? In researching CROSLEY: Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation, I noticed that the Crosley Corporation and Crosley Broadcasting's engineering department were as notorious as WLW for low pay and high turnover among engineers as well as talent, management, and other staff.
Consider two of Crosley's earliest engineering employees: Elmer Hentz and Dorman Israel, the University of Cincinnati coop students who were responsible for building the first Crosley Harko set. Dorman Israel also built WLW's first transmitter.
As it turned out, Hentz soon left for a career as an engineer with an elevator manufacturer. Dorman Israel styaed not much longer, and went on became the Chief Engineer and Executive Vice-President of the Emerson Electric (later radio and television) Company.
I believe that both engineers pursued careers beyond Crosley because they knew they wouldn't be making a lot of money for a long time--if ever--with Crosley. Crosley was never the highest-paying outfit in its field, nor even in its city (though it was Cincinnati's largest employer for a time). The company had a tendency to hire people to gain access to their knowledge, then let them go or drive them away by not promoting them. This also happened with famous designer Walter Dorman Teague and, it appears, David Forbes Keith, designer of the Icyball.
With rare exception, it seems that most Crosley employees were like the interchangable parts that went into Crosley products. Only Powel and, to a lesser extent, Lewis Crosley were irreplacable.
Copyright 2007, Michael A. Banks
Thursday, September 13, 2007
This was at the time (1936) the largest radio receiver in the world. Crosley had it built in response to the Zenith Stratosphere, introduced as the world's largest radio in the previous year. The engineer who designed and built the set, Amyle P. Richards, earned his Masters degree in engineering with the project. As an additional rationale for building the set, Powel Crosley stated, “It is fitting that the owner of the world’s most powerful radio station make the world’s greatest radio receiver.”
Click the picture for a larger image, and click here for an article about the WLW model that I wrote for Radio Magazine.
The lodge is screened by trees in the B&W photo. Note Crosley's Douglas Dolphin amphibian resting at anchor, and the radio tower on the hillock in front of the cabin. The aerial wire ran between this tower and one on the peak of the lodge's roof. Click pictures for larger images.
(NOTE: To see where else Powel Crosley, Jr. spent his time, have a look at this post showing his first house, and my post about Crosley's Pinecroft Mansion in Cincinnati. To learn more about the Crosley estate in Florida, Sea Gate, see http://www.crosleymuseum.com/)
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The Crosley Reference lists the books, magazines, and newspapers I turned up during my research. Each contains an article, chapter, photo, or other info having to do with Powel Crosley, Jr. The listings are weighted toward Crosley automobiles, but include many articles about Crosley's life as well as some special-interest pieces. Sources include all sorts of books, and everything from car magazines to The Saturday Evening Post, Time, Business Week, Radio Broadcaster, and more. The Bibliography also lists stories from scores of newspapers around the world. Covering 1911 through 2007, The Crosley Reference contains:
- 378 books with Crosley information
- 679 Crosley newspaper stories
- 493 magazine articles that reference or feature Crosley
Along with the listings, you get a brief, specially written biography of Powel Crosley's automobiles. It contains info not found elsewhere.
To get a copy of The Crosley Reference (30+ pages, 4th Edition), send $12.50 to:
Michael A. Banks
P.O. Box 175
Monday, September 10, 2007
I did a couple of searches with Google for "Powell" versus "Powel," and found that, since CROSLEY: Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation came out, the incidence of Powell Crosley has gone way down.
Similar searches show that there's still lots of misinformation out there; hence, this blog.
(Powel had no middle name, by the way.)
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Crosley was also interested in the "old-time" outdoorsmen of the 18th and early 19th centuries, in particular their muzzle-loading rifles, an interest sparked by his one-time Indiana hunting companion and star of WLW's "R.F.D. Hour" in the 1930s, Maurice "Boss" Johnston. Boss Johnston's radio show consisted of guest country music performers and Boss himself talking about farming and woodcraft, and telling tales passed down from his older relatives.
On one Saturday evening program in 1933, Boss got to talking about muzzle-loading rifles, and how it might be nice to have a shooting match. Within two days more than 100 letters came in to WLW asking when and where the shoot was to be held. Johnston told Powel Crosley, Jr. about this, and Crosley offered to fund a trophy (shown above) and donate prizes for such a competition. The Crosley match continues to be shot at the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA) annual meet in Southeastern Indiana. More details are of course in CROSLEY: Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation.
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks
Saturday, September 8, 2007
The attic dormer where Crosley experimented with early radio can be clearly seen, and in the right foreground is an antenna post, from which a baling wire aerial ran to the house. (A cropped closeup image of the antenna is posted to the left of this text.)
This was in a relativley new housing development in an upper middle-class neighborhood. The Crosleys bought the home at a reported bargain price because the developer (who lived in this house) was going bankrupt.
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks
Friday, September 7, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
I'll post more info on the WLW Model Super Power Radio Receiver here in a few days, but here's some background: the WLW receiver was built in 1936 by the Crosley Radio Corporation as the world's largest and most powerful receiver. The set was inspired by Eugene MacDonald of Zenith turning out the Zenith 1000Z Stratosphere receiver a year earlier--which at the time it was the world's largest set.
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Speaker Available: Official Crosley Historian, Author and Expert on Crosley Radios, Cars, WLW, and More
You may not know that there is quite a lot of information about Powel Crosley, Jr. and his activities that did not make it into the book, for one reason or another.
As the leading Crosley historian and an expert on early broadcast history and other topics, I will be pleased to share my years of research with your organization as a speaker at your convention, trade show, or other meeting. In addition to what didn't make it into the book, I've continued my research and have uncovered lots of new information since the book was published. I am available to speak on these and related subjects:
As I have the opportunity, I share some of this knowledge via magazine articles (here is an example), but I'll never get to publish it all. It is, however, available to your organization.
I am a speaker with wide experience in addressing groups of all sizes, as well as television and radio audiences. In addition to doing a presentation for your organization I will be pleased to spend time with individuals. Plus, I have various Crosley artifacts to share during my talks.
For more information, please contact me at: banksbook at yahoo dot com
The club publishes a quarterly newsletter that's chock full of information about the history of the Crosley, Crosley owners and collectors, photos and lots more. There's a Crosley National Meet every July near Wauseon, Ohio, and several regional sections of the club serve Florida, Ohio, and other areas.
Dues are very reasonable ($20 per year), and the group also supports fans of Crosley's other products (radios, appliances, etc.) URL: http://crosleyautoclub.com/
Banks was responsible for more than 90 percent of the research and the 715-page original draft. He was contracted to be the author of the book several years after he began working on it.
Banks also obtained most of the photos in the book. Additional unpublished photos will be shared here from time to time, as will informaton that didn't make it into the book, and new information Banks has turned up in his ongoing research.
In addition to the Crosley biography, Michael A. Banks is the author of more than 40 other books, the most recent of which is Blogging Heroes: Interviews with 30 of the World's Top Bloggers. He has also written books on hobbies, computers and the Internet, educator references, and science fiction novels. For more information, see http://www.michaelabanks.com/
As for how and why Banks ended up writing Powel Crosley, Jr.'s biography, he says it all started when he was looking for a biography of Powel Crosley, Jr. ini 1965. In high school at the time, he assumed Crosley was ranked with Henry Ford as one of the more important inventors and industrialists of the 20th Century. That being the case, he figured his high school library would have a biography of Crosley. It didn't. Nor did the country library; the book didn't exist.
Why did Banks think Crosley was so important? Growing up in a Cincinnati suburb in the 1950s and 1960s, everything was Crosley. The Cincinnati Reds (owned by Powel Crosley, Jr.) played at Crosley Field. Crosley's WLW radio station and WLW-T television station broadcast many of the games. In the 1950s, a next-door neighbor owned a 1951 Crosley station wagon, and Banks remembers standing in the neighbor's driveway and spinning the propeller on the car's nose. His grandparents had a massive Crosley console radio in their living room. An aunt used a Crosley Sav-A-Maid industrial-size ironer. There were lots more Crosley appliances and cars just about anywhere he went--this included family trips to an aunt's home in Mason, Ohio. On each trip WLW's tower would loom on the horizon and gradually grow to become the largest thing he had ever seen. The first station he received on his first crystal radio set was WLW ...
With that background, it was natural that Banks ranked Powel Crosley, Jr. right up there with Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. One day in 1965 he visited his high school library in search of a Crosley biography; he assumed a biography of such an important personage must exist ... but it did not. I was reading a lot of biographies at the time and having grown up with Crosley I figured he was like Henry Ford and expected to find a biography of him in the local library. No luck.
Banks began publishing shortly after he graduated high school, mostly magazine articles. He thought again about a biography of Crosley, but he'd never written a book. By the time his first book was published in 1981, there were other books to write and he was sure that someone else had to be writing one.
Three dozen books later, in early 2001, he decided that no one else was going to write the book, so he down and began writing the book. There are some intersting stories from the research and writing of the book (including threats against Banks if he were to write the book!) Somoe of those will be shared here, along with previously unpublished information about Powel Crosley, Jr. and his world. Stay tuned!