Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Frank Edwards: Serious Broadcasts

When we spotlighted Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe's early years as a writer recently, I hoped to demonstrate that people concerned about UFOs usually have other lives as well, activities more in tune with society's routine expectations.

The late Frank Edwards, once a powerful voice behind the microphones of the Mutual Broadcasting System and an early TV celebrity, was a friend of Keyhoe, and an influential NICAP board member who authored several books. He may be remembered particularly for his blockbuster book, Flying Saucers: Serious Business (excerpts of which he narrated for an LP record album of the same title on the RCA Victor label in the sixties) and the follow-up, Flying Saucers Here and Now. For years, he kept American audiences current on important UFO incidents, and reports involving military and airline pilots kept 'em on the edge of their chairs.

As successful as he found his dramatic UFO-related broadcasts for an enthusiastic nationwide audience, however, Edwards actually started out as a young man experiencing radio's early years of adventure, unencumbered by arduous and intrusive regulations endorsed by such official agencies as the Federal Communications Commission. Edwards' 1956 paperback autobiography, My First 10,000,000 Sponsors, allowed readers a personal look into a unique broadcast career touched by both tough and rewarding times. Did he embellish and over-dramatize now and then during broadcasts? The answer to that question might be found in one word, an intimidating albatross chained around the neck of every broadcaster ever born: Ratings.