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Lost SoundThe Forgotten Art of Radio Storytelling$
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Jeff Porter

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469627779

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627779.001.0001

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date: 19 August 2017

All Things Reconsidered

All Things Reconsidered

The Promise of NPR

Chapter:
8 All Things Reconsidered
Source:
Lost Sound
Author(s):

Jeff Porter

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627779.003.0009

NPR has always been a haven for people with brains, but in the beginning it was also a sanctuary for literate people with ears. As the final chapter explains, the “magazine” format adopted by All Things Considered was a nod toward established literary publications like the New Yorker. With ninety minutes at its disposal, All Things Considered could reasonably indulge its listeners with an inventive mix of news, commentaries, satire, essays, plays, and mini-documentaries that earned the program a cult following by 1978. NPR revealed a preference for marginal stories, which fed its interest in pseudo-news radio genres like commentaries, essays, and documentaries, and its pursuit of offbeat topics allowed the network to sustain a commitment to sound as an artistic medium. A sense of adventure informed the young network’s attitude toward storytelling that harked back to the golden years of radio. NPR surprised even itself by hiring Joe Frank and by picking up Ken Nordine’s eccentric Word Jazz. Fabulists who later developed cult followings in the manner of Jean Shepherd, Frank, and Nordine were a good match for NPR’s experiment with novel forms of storytelling, which for a brief period tested the boundaries of listening.

Keywords:   All Things Considered, Susan Stanberg, NPR, Joe Frank, Ken Nordine, Jean Shepherd, Essay, Vietnam protest, Podcasts, This American Life

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