Between the Lines: Bee’s role in early radio

“Sacramento on the Air” by Annette Kassis
“Sacramento on the Air” by Annette Kassis Scanned cover

Part of the 158-year history of The Sacramento Bee is its role as the first newspaper on the West Coast to open a broadcast radio station.

The year was 1922 and the station was KVQ, one of just 570 stations then in the United States. As the decades passed, the McClatchy Co. expanded to own multiple radio and TV stations, including what is now top-ranked KFBK News Radio. Essentially, it sculpted broadcast media in Sacramento. Later, a series of events led the company to sell all of its broadcast properties and refocus on its newspapers.

This story is told in detail by cultural and business historian Annette Kassis in her new book, “Sacramento on the Air: How the McClatchy Family Revolutionized West Coast Broadcasting” (History Press, $22, 160 pages).

Kassis will discuss the book in her free event at 7 p.m. Thursday at Time Tested Books, 1114 21st St., Sacramento; information at 916-447-5696 or She is also the author of “Prohibition in Sacramento” and “Weinstock’s: Sacramento’s First Department Store,” and she’s a board member of the Sacramento History Alliance.

The spy who turned to writing

Espionage novelist John le Carré describes his life this way: “I live on a Cornish cliff and hate cities. I write and walk and swim and drink.”

There’s much more where that came from in the new biography “John le Carré” by Adam Sisman (Harper, $29, 672 pages; on sale Tuesday, Nov. 3). Sisman, winner of the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award, includes a wealth of personal correspondence and way-behind-the-scenes dramas.

We’ll see how it stacks up against le Carré’s autobiography, “The Pigeon Tunnel,” when it shows up in September.

Famously, le Carré ( David Cornwell), was a spy for the British counterintelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 in the 1950s and 1960s. When his third novel, “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold,” became a mega-hit in 1963 – followed by Richard Burton’s defining role in the 1965 movie – le Carré became a civilian novelist.

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe