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Joe Frank (born August 19, 1938) is an American radio personality, known best for his often philosophical, humorous, surrealist, and sometimes absurd monologues and radio dramas.

Early life

Joe Frank was born in August 1938 in Strasbourg, Francemarker near the border of Germany. Being Jewish, his family fled Nazi Germany and moved to New York Citymarker later in that same year. His father died shortly after.

In his twenties, Frank studied at Hofstra Universitymarker in New Yorkmarker and later at the Iowa Writers' Workshopmarker. Frank taught English literature at the Dalton Schoolmarker in Manhattan when he became interested in the power of radio.

Early Radio Career

In the 1970s Frank started volunteering at Pacifica Network station WBAI in New Yorkmarker, doing experimental radio involving monologues, improvisational actors, and live music during late night free-form hours. In 1978 he moved to Washington DC to serve as a co-anchor for the weekend edition of National Public Radio's All Things Considered, his first paying radio job.

During this period he wrote, performed in, and produced 18 dramas for NPR Playhouse which won several awards.

KCRW, 1986-2002

In 1986, on the invitation of Ruth Hirschman [Seymour] the general manager of NPR's Santa Monica affiliate KCRWmarker, Frank moved to Santa Monica, Californiamarker where he wrote, produced and performed in his own weekly hour-long radio program, "Joe Frank: Work In Progress."

While at KCRW, Frank received several awards, including a Peabody Award and two Corporation for Public Broadcasting Awards, one for his acclaimed three-part series "Rent-a-Family." Frank was also a Guggenheim Fellow.

Joe Frank continued to work at KCRW until 2002, and his work evolved, as evidenced by the diverse series he produced: first Work in Progress, then In The Dark, followed by Somewhere Out There, and finally The Other Side.

Radio Programs

Frank's radio programs are often dark and ironic, and employ a dry sense of humor and the sincere delivery of ideas or stories that are patently absurd. Subject matter often includes religion, life's meaning, death, and Frank's relationships with women.

Frank's voice is distinctive, resonant, authoritative, and - because of his occasional voice-over work - often oddly familiar. At the 2003 Third Coast Festival he explained that he was "recording in Dolby and playing back without it -- which created Joe's now familiar intimate and gritty sound".

Adding to the atmosphere of Frank's monologues are edited loops of instrumental music from sources as diverse as Miles Davis, Tangerine Dream, Can, Air and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

The repetitive music and Frank's dry, announcer-like delivery are sometimes mixed with recorded phone calls with actor/friends such as Larry Block, Debi Mae West and Arthur Miller, broken into "acts" over the course of each hourlong program.

Frank's series The Other Side included excerpts from Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield's Dharma talks at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. In an interview on KPFA's the Morning Show, Kornfield was asked about working with Joe Frank. Kornfield explained that although he had never met or talked to Joe Frank or heard his show, he didn't mind Frank using the lectures and that many of his meditation students had found Kornfield through the show.

Other Work

  • "The Decline Of Spengler" Stage Play (New Directions 48, New York)
  • "A Tour Of The City" Stage Play (Tanam Press, New York)
  • The Queen of Puerto Rico and Other Stories,, William Morrow and Co, New York, 1993. ISBN 0688087655 a collection of short stories: Tell me what to do—Fat man—Night—Date—Walter—The queen of Puerto Rico—The decline of Spengler


2002-Present

Since 2002, Frank has performed on stage in Chicago at the Chicago Art Institutemarker, in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hallmarker and in Los Angeles at Largo and other venues.

In 2003, Joe Frank was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Third Coast International Audio Festival.

His body of work (over 230 hours) continues to be aired on many NPR stations in the United States. The entire archives, along with Joe Frank film shorts and other extras, are available by subscription to his web site.

Frank continues to write new work for the stage and his web site.

Inspiration to Other Artists

Frank's body of work has inspired a variety of other artists including:

  • Ira Glass of This American Life - "Ira Glass worked under Frank as one of his first jobs in public radio, and credits him as his greatest inspiration."
  • David Sedaris - writer
  • Troy Schulze, a theater artist in Houston who created the show Jerry's World (2003) for the Houston, Tx.-based theater group Infernal Bridegroom Productions. Utilizing material from several Frank shows, the piece was deemed "Best Original Show" in Houston that year, by the Houston Press.
  • Jeff Crouse, artist and technologist, created Interactive Frank, which uses content from the web to dynamically create a Joe Frank Show. "The user types in a sentence, and Interactive Frank takes over, scouring the web for another sentence that follows a sentence with the last three words. Frank can also find streaming audio to accompany the generated narrative based on a word analysis, and it can read the narrative using an online text-to-speech generator."




Voiceover and Acting Work

Joe Frank has done voice over work for commercials including Zima, and Saturn Corporation. He was the voice of the computer in Galaxy Quest and provides voiceover for:

He also had a small acting role in The Game.

Awards

During NPR Playhouse



During Work In Progress

  • 1988
    • Major Armstrong Award
    • Corporation For Public Broadcasting Program Award




  • 2003
    • Third Coast International Audio Festival Lifetime Achievement Award


External links



References


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