Thursday, November 3, 2011

On the Radio . . .

Because I had written Fenway 1912 I recently received a call from National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and was asked to write an essay on the end of the baseball season, something evocative, a sort of an elegy.

I poured a glass of wine, went down stairs, and after a few false starts, came up with something that felt genuine and seemed appropriate. It was accepted a few hours later, and the next day I went to Vermont Public Radio to record it. It evetually aired a few days later, on October 31, 2011..

I had been to VPR before. Bill Littlefield has been kind enough to have me on his show, Only a Game, several times, but Sam the engineer warned me that All Things Considered was pretty particular about recording their commentaries.

I have to say I wasn't worried. I usually write to sound, meaning that I write as much in regard to the sound of the word as I do to sense, a habit left over from the days when I wrote only poetry and often read aloud at various forums in college and later, in and around Boston. Besides, when I was younger I did a bit of theater. Although making a cold call for an interview gives me anxiety, public speaking has never bothered me at all.

They had me read through the entire piece twice, then had me re-read selected lines. The whole process took about twenty minutes.

The entire time I was reminded of the days when I was ten or twelve years old, and would go over to my old friend Richard's house for sleepovers. He was an electronics whiz and in his basement had effectively created a radio station, linking together several turntables and tape recorders, that did everything but broadcast over the air. We - or rather he - would make radio shows. I was just a reader and writer. We would re-enact and read and tape Mad Magazine parodies and until our bellies hurt, and wrote our own parodies and gossipy news bits about our elementary school classmates. We even published an occasional "underground newspaper," just having fun.

I've often thought of those days, because now I write for a living and Richard, to no surprise, is a radio and broadcasting techno genius, formerly NPR’s Master Control supervisor and technical director, and currently oversees Strategic Technology Applications for NPR labs.

Not that I know what any of that really is, but I suspect that,at its core its not all that much different than what he was doing in his basement some forty years ago, just as thew writing I do today is not all that much different. We were just having fun then, and, I suspect, we're both still having fun now.

Here's a link to the essay:


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