7.7/10
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7 user 3 critic

Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio (1991)

For 50 years, radio dominated the airwaves as the first mass medium. Ken Burns examines the lives of three men who shared the responsibility for its invention and early success.

Director:

Ken Burns

Writers:

Ken Burns (additional), Tom Lewis (book) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jason Robards ... Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Red Barber Red Barber ... Himself - Radio Announcer
Erik Barnouw Erik Barnouw ... Himself - Historian
Ken Bilby Ken Bilby ... Himself - Biographer of David Sarnoff
Norman Corwin ... Himself - Writer
Susan Douglas Susan Douglas ... Herself - Historian
Frank Günther Frank Günther ... Himself (engineer)
Jeanne Hammond Jeanne Hammond ... Herself - Niece of Edwin H. Armstrong
Loren Jones Loren Jones ... Himself - Engineer
Garrison Keillor ... Himself - Writer
Helen Kelley Helen Kelley ... Herself - Radio Broadcaster
Robert Morris Robert Morris ... Himself - Engineer
Dana Raymond Dana Raymond ... Himself - Friend of Edwin H. Armstrong
Gertrude Tyne Gertrude Tyne ... Herself - Engineer
Edit

Storyline

For 50 years, radio dominated the airwaves as the first mass medium. Ken Burns examines the lives of three men who shared the responsibility for its invention and early success.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

TV-G
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

October 1991 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At the end of the credits, there is a message in Morse code that reads "Baseball next". Ken Burns' documentary on baseball did come after this one. See more »

Connections

Featured in Ken Burns: America's Storyteller (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

 
How could anyone (let alone Ken Burns) do a documentary about the pioneers of radio with no mention of Nikola Tesla?
24 January 2011 | by WellenstockSee all my reviews

First of all I recommend anyone reading this (especially Ken Burns) to pick up a copy of "Tesla" by Tad Wise. Tesla is one of the most brilliant and fascinating inventors of all time.

Without Tesla we would not have radio! We would also not have television, alternating current, electric motors, fluorescent light, remote controls and the list goes on and on. He has around 300 patents and phony Marconi infringed on more than one. But he's not the only one to cheat Tesla, give Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse their due.

So what happened Ken Burns? Were you getting your funding from Republicans that forced you to manipulate history? Wasn't Tesla enough of a money grubbing cheating capitalist for you? Well you lost a lot of credibility with this and it's a shame.

I suggest you change the title slightly. Let's call this pretend documentary, "The Men Who Made-Off With Radio"

To think that children trying to learn about the history of radio may as a result of your abomination never hear the name Nikola Tesla. This reflects so poorly on PBS and Ken Burns the thing should be retracted. At the very least Ken should appear at the beginning of the film apologizing and saying we really blew it with this one. We didn't do our research on something as basic as who invented radio.


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