Press Play: Remembering Joe Frank

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Radio legend Joe Frank died Monday. He was 79. Press Play talked to some of the people who worked with Frank about his brilliance, his storytelling and his unmistakeable voice.


KCRW president Jennifer Ferro told Press Play about how he came to KCRW and how he constructed his stories:

He was a director and he pulled things out of people, but really what was interesting about it about Joe as an artist was that nothing that he talked about specifically was real. Nothing. It was all constructed the through line was this kind of notion of wrestling with humiliation and inadequacy.

Unfictional host Bob Carlson told Press Play about what it was like to work with him:

He was incredibly maddening to work with. He was super super exacting about what he wanted, and nobody did what he did. So everything he did was unusual, so you you’d have to kind of catch up to his style. He had a very specific idea of what he wanted his voice to sound like and it wasn’t necessarily good. He wanted his voice to sort of cut through the music in a certain way. He was very exacting about the music he used and I learned a lot from that.

This American Life host Ira Glass worked with Frank as a young radio producer:

I very clearly remember being in the studio in NPR’s old studios on M Street in Studio 2 in this big old fashioned studio with reel to reel tape recorders and I was standing by one of the tape recorders next to the engineer and Joe was recording one of his early shows and music’s playing and he’s just reading that totally hypnotic way. And I remember feeling like oh my god I’m totally caught up in this. I totally want to find out what’s going to happen. I have never felt this before. I don’t know how he’s doing this but, like, I wanna do that.