In this week’s issue… Public radio loses a friend, and some towers – Breeze blows at Jersey shore – Yankees stay put – Go west, young Silverman – No new FMs in two Ontario cities
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*Pacifica Radio and its New York outlet, WBAI (99.5), have attracted a lot of characters over six-plus decades, but even in that crowd, Larry Josephson was a truly unique individual.
As a cubicle-bound IBM engineer in the early 1960s, the lifelong radio fan volunteered at WBAI in search of some excitement, and did he ever get it. Morning drive might have been a prestige job at other stations, but at WBAI it was the shift none of the night owls wanted, which is how he ended up hosting “In the Beginning” starting in 1966. There was no morning happy talk on WBAI; instead, Josephson ran a curmudgeonly show in which he took bagel deliveries on the air, played whatever music struck his fancy and shared his gripes and rants about life in New York, especially about the hassles of working an early morning shift.
Josephson navigated the turmoil of WBAI’s early 1970s, moved west for a few years to work at sister station KPFA in Berkeley, then returned as the station’s general manager from 1974 until 1976, a period of (relative) calm in the station’s history. While he remained involved with WBAI as a weekend host into the 1980s, he branched out into independent radio production, perhaps most notably shepherding the return of Bob and Ray to a regular radio show syndicated to public radio stations through much of the 1980s.
His programming output came from a spare bedroom in his Manhattan apartment, a homebrew studio that became a surprisingly popular production spot not only for Josephson’s own series but also as a rental space where Ed Bradley recorded his Lincoln Center jazz show, Garrison Keillor did “Writer’s Almanac” and even the Rolling Stones stopped in for an interview.
In recent years, Josephson had suffered from Parkinson’s disease, which took his life on Wednesday night. He was 83 when he died, with a radio by his bedside that family members said was putting out static when they found his body.
WE’VE LOWERED THE PRICE!
It’s officially summer. Have you still not ordered your Tower Site Calendar?
Good news! You can now purchase it for just $8. You also still have the option of getting it signed for $13, or buying a storage bag for $1.