I generally don't buy in to the idea of "radio as art," but if there's such a thing as a radio artist, Joe Frank is it. An original host on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered, he soon departed that program to produce distinctive original work.
His work combines truth, fiction, speach, music, telephone calls and sound effects in the service of often mysterious stories. If you're a fan of shows like Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything or This American Life, you should know that they largely cribbed their formats from Frank. In fact, Ira Glass worked under Frank as one of his first jobs in public radio, and credits him as his greatest inspiration. Frank has won a Peabody, a lifetime achievement award from the Third Coast International Audio Festival, and a pile of other awards and accolades.
He left his home station, KCRW, in 2002. Since then, his archives have been available at his website, and re-runs have continued to air on a few stations around the country.
Now, he's podcasting. Here's Panopticist's description of the first show:
The first offering is an excellent hourlong show from 1997 called "The Other Side." It's a typically diverse Joe Frank episode: It opens with an actor (or is it an actor?) mangling a short passage from the Bible, then moves into an improvised phone dialogue between two actors. Later on are excerpts from a phone interview Joe conducted with an unidentified woman who is apparently a friend of his; she tells Joe about her doubts regarding her current relationship. (As he often does with his phone interviews, Joe cut out most of his side of the conversation, which gives the interviewee's answers the flavor of a monologue.)
The rest of the episode consists of two classic Joe Frank monologues. The first is a paranoid, Raymond Chandler–ish tale of an office worker who is visited by a strange woman who forces him to accept a mysterious box. The second is a first-person story of a man who realizes, out of the blue, that he must leave his wife: He tells her calmly that he's leaving her, then packs up his things, walks out the door, and checks into a hotel to begin a new life.
Joe Frank's Podcast
Joe Frank's Podcast Feed
Joe Frank's Podcast in iTunes