Wizard of the Wind

Don Keith, Author
Don Keith, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-312-14769-3
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Paperback - 356 pages - 978-1-4783-6294-4
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A novel that begins with a two-page dedication to ""radio personalities"" and a scene that echoes the opening of Broadway Danny Rose--a bunch of deejays trading stories about their legendary peers--raises high expectations. Instead of a high-spirited and affectionate tale of rock-and-roll radio, however, Keith (The Forever Season) gives us the cautionary fable of Jimmy Gill, an orphan whose early love of radio in 1950s Birmingham changes his life. Indeed, he loses his soul as he grows from a disk jockey to the head of a satellite network. With his childhood friend Detroit Simmons, who has an intuitive aptitude for engineering, Gill parlays a radio station in Nashville into a satellite-uplinked national network of radio and cable-TV programming. But the money Gill uses to make the initial purchase comes from the drug-dealing of the dangerous George twins, and it comes back to haunt him at the height of his power and fame. All the ingredients are here for a great story, but Keith shows us far too much of Gill's corporate fall and not enough of the joy in his radio rise. As Gill becomes more interested in corporate power, his appeal plummets. Moreover, too many chapters read too often like print versions of a 1930s Hollywood biopic (Jimmy discovers the untapped power of FM; Jimmy discovers the untapped power of cable TV), and the ending is hokey and preachy. (Jan.)
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