CITIZEN'S RADIO CALL BOOK Magazine Profile

In the early 1920's the Citizen's Radio Service Bureau (508 South Dearborn St., Chicago IL) began publishing lists of radio stations, with location, frequency, power, and programming descriptions. They sold them to the same people who were already buying RADIO NEWS. Probably from the first, and definitely by 1926, each issue sold ad space, and contained both consumer-oriented and technical articles on radio and how to listen to it. They also published lists of amateur radio operators and their call signs. Both kinds of lists have continued to the present, from a variety of publishers, and today you can find them in electronic form on the web.

The first issue of CITIZEN'S RADIO CALL BOOK was apparently published in 1921. The first issue we have a cover image for is from 1922, and we have high-quality images of almost all of the issues published up to the middle of 1932. For 1922-25 it was apparently published twice yearly, in May and November or in the "Spring" and "Fall." In 1926 it claimed to be a tri-annual, but in March of 1927 announced it would be a quarterly beginning with the September issue. Thereafter it usually published four issues a year, in January, March, September, and November. The issues in the later 1920's were typically over 200 pages long, stuffed with ads for radio sets and components you could use to build your own, and with listings for all the broadcast stations in the US and elsewhere.

We've never been able to figure out the Volume numbering. Write if you know the answer.

The title varied as the publishers tried to follow trends, survive the encroaching Depression, and appeal to the true Radio geeks who were their real core audience. From being a "Complete Radio Cyclopedia" which was "Used the World Over," it became in 1928 a "Scientific Digest," and in 1930 a "Technical Review," as it added additional departments and editorial content.

In the September 1927 issue the Editor, F. C. Burlington, wrote, "With this issue, the CITIZEN'S RADIO CALL BOOK enters into the seventh year of publication. The CITIZEN'S RADIO CALL BOOK of today is very much different from the modest loose-leaf Call Book of 1921. Originally conceived to supply the demand of the commercial and amateur operator for a Call Book containing all of the radio stations of the world, this magazine has slowly changed, both in physical appearance and type of content. We have endeavored, as year after year passed, to improve the magazine so that it would appeal to the radio public as a whole. Nor have we neglected our original readers. An amateur edition of the CITIZEN'S RADIO CALL BOOK appears tri-annually, supplying an up-to-date list of all commercial, broadcast and amateur stations in the world."

The last quarterly issue seems to have been March 1931. The next issue is dated October 1931; it dropped the word "Citizen's" from the title, changed the magazine to monthly publication, and replaced the pictorial covers with single-color covers with a small text block (indicating something about the contents of the issue) in the center. By mid-1932 the issues (probably affected badly by the Depression) were much thinner, though they were being published more often. What happened after June 1932 we don't know precisely, but the "CALL BOOK" suddenly turned up on the cover of the December 1932 issue of RADIO NEWS (which claimed "Two Magazines for the Price of One,") and stayed on there (as a sub-title on the cover) through the September 1933 issue. Hugo Gernsback had already been publishing a competitor to this magazine, the RADIO LISTENER'S GUIDE AND REVIEW, which apparently grew out of RADIO REVIEW, and was, like it, edited by his brother Sidney.

The covers of the earliest issues were simple drawings printed in a spot color against black type, but by 1925 they were doing truly pictorial covers, and in December 1926 and September 1928 printed covers in color (it seems to be three-color work, with no black plate). The covers from October 1931 onwards were simple, rarely changing graphical designs, which we show here for reference.

The March 1927 cover says, "See Page 220 for Art Contest." Yup, a contest for cover illustrations. Results were announced in the November 1927 issue. "So generous was the response from artists all over the country to our recent art contest, that the judges and editors have been hard put to reach a decision within a limited space of time. Subjects were entered covering a wide range, from the most complex to the simplst of themes dealing with radio, which might be suitable for use on our front covers. Some of the sketches submitted were beautiful from an artistic standpoint, but did not lend themselves for a color separation adaptable for cover purposes." They went on to announce the winners as:

First Prize:—$150.00: Albert Kortner, Chicago, Ill.
Second Prize:—$100.00: Dorothy Ray, Westfield, N. J.
Third Prize:—$75.00: Silvio Beraldini, Paris, France
Fourth Prize:—$50.00: William G. Strohmer, Chicago, Ill.
Five Prizes:—$25 each:
    A. A. Allen, Kansas City, Mo.
    Margaret Gardener, Chicago Ill.
    F. C. Cutts, New York, Ny. Y.
    Marion Moore, Detroit, Mich.
    J. B. Brennan, St. Louis, Mo.

As to who their artists were, the Table of Contents pages only gives cover credit in a single one of the issues we have. For March 1926 the cover credit is to "Cutts" (and the cover is signed that way). Probably this is the same F. C. Cutts who won a $25.00 prize in the art contest in 1927. Below is what we've managed to gather from signatures. It's not much.

Issue Date:
1926   March
1926   December
1927   March

Artist:
Cutts
P. Antony
Benton


We will add further publishing information when we can.

Note: All of our images, except for the issue of Fall 1925, are from photographs of bound volumes at the Library of Congress or the University of California, or from scans by Stephen Melachrinos or Lloyd Schubert. There are probably a couple of issues we still don't have, and we'd always like to get better copies of the ones we do have.

Sources:


Update history:

  • 12 January 2007: New version of this document, for new website version.
  • 21 March 2005: Completely revamped this section with many new and almost all the rest improved images; nearly a complete set
  • 10 March 2005: Added one new image (1922-11) and one greatly improved one (1927-03)
  • 16 November 2004: Updated formats
  • 27 October 2004: Created this page for this title, and uploaded 31 cover images


Update history: This page created 28 December 2006.