S672 Book Review: Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio

Title: Out on the Wire

Subtitle: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of the Radio

Author: Jessica Abel

Publication Info: Broadway Books, a Division of Random House (2015)



To say I loved this book would be a grand understatement. I picked it from a list, just because I was trying to get a variety of books and opinions throughout the class. However, once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. Out on the Wire is a comic book about the radio, a medium that most people consider completely auditory. What author Jessica Abel says, however, is that radio is visual (like one of her close friend, NPR’s Ira Glass), says.


We are all storytellers!

Out on the Wire is a captivating look at what it means to make good radio programs that go beyond talking heads a little music. But, it does so in such a funky, modern way that you forget that you’re learning a ton about the radio process. The graphic novel illustrates everything from picking stories to editing, and does it seamlessly, all while telling the bigger narrative of why the radio still matters today, no matter how you listen (in the car, at work, online, etc).

What surprised me the most about Out on the Wire is just how good it is. It’s all black and white pencil illustrations, and there is a lot of dense information in it. But, at the same time, it’s powerful, funny and interesting. This is a book about capturing people’s stories and the essence of what makes them human. It legit made me want to read more about the radio – and turn on the radio.

Read-Alikes and Other Books

Out on the Wire is the perfect book for people interested in a career in radio or podcasting. Other great resources include:

Websites and Other Activities



  1. Hi Emily,
    I would never have chosen to read this, but your enthusiastic review changed my mind. Thanks!

  2. Hi Emily.

    How interesting! I had never heard of this book, but your enthusiastic review has made me not only want to read it but pass on your recommendation to friends and family as well. “This is a book about capturing people‚Äôs stories and the essence of what makes them human.” That sentence alone had me ready to go!

    This seems like a book that would really benefit from the graphic novel format. You mention the dense information in the book but sometimes it’s easier to take in that dense information when its attached to images.

    When I was a boy my dad did a radio show on Saturday nights at the public radio affiliate at our local university. He and his best friend would show up at 7:00 with a 12 pack of beer and play Blues records for three hours. (Their joke was that they’d play until 10:00 or “until the beer was gone.”) Every now and then I would get to tag along and, on special occasions, I was even allowed on the microphone. It is one of the favorite memories of my childhood and it helped instill a lifelong love of radio and the people who work there. This book sounds right up my alley! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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