Radio Ga-Ga

Earlier today I was a guest on New Hampshire Public Radio’s “Word of Mouth” program, hosted by Virginia Prescott, talking about audiobooks. I’ve been on radio before but this was the first time I recorded a segment in a studio setting, headphones strapped to my ear with a button to push in case I coughed (as far as I remember, I did not cough, and did not need to press the button.)

Recording the live segment was an interesting experience – one I’m happy to replicate – but most interesting to me was the setup. I arrived at the Radio Foundation on Central Park West thinking it would be akin to midtown recording studios where I watched an audiobook recording in progress a couple of years ago. Then a very nice older lady opened the door and I spotted row upon row of toys in the front hall, my first clue this would be a little different. The next clue were the certificates of honor for working with comedians Bob & Ray and the National Yiddish Book Center. The last clue was Larry Josephson, the veteran radio host and producer who started The Radio Foundation over thirty years ago for non-profit radio production. He’s an old school kind of guy. We talked about Jean Shepherd. And he made me feel very much at home for what could be a nerve-wracking situation.

Then my name was called and Larry and his crew led me into the studio. It’s small, but there’s enough room for about 4 people to fit comfortably. Master tapes of Bob & Ray and Garrison Keillor shows lined the walls. The place was fully soundproofed, giving it the feel of a bunker to find shelter in should catastrophe strike. But none did, and the segment zipped along so fast I thought it took half the time allotted (later on I learned I was on the air for six minutes, as originally scheduled.)

Then it was over and Larry gave me a tour of the toys in the front hall. My head was spinning too much to take everything in but how can you not admire a talking radio, sassy anthromorphic monkeys and parrots and other gadgets? And once again, I’m reminded why I live in New York. Because experiences like these happen elsewhere, but the city adds an extra edge, an additional wrinkle that makes those experiences all the more memorable.