Friday, April 13, 2007

Larry's Place

Last week, David Brancaccio, Kristin McHugh, Simon Marks, and I gathered in Larry Josephson's Manhattan radio studio to record David's narration for the documentary "Beyond Fear: America's Role in an Uncertain World." All of you in the public radio world have met Larry or know him by reputation. He was present at the creation of our industry and not much more needs to be said.

But his base of operation is worth further description. This fifth floor apartment on Central Park West is his home as well as the workplace for a small staff of people. It is infused with an amazing collection of radio equipment and paraphernalia, although "collection" may give it too much of a sense of organization. David quipped that this is probably what his home would look like if he didn't have others regulating his purchase of old microphones and gizmo treasures.

Sylvester the cat, wandering through the rooms, gives the place a very civilized and homey vibe. People love recording at Larry's place certainly because of the excellent sound quality and technical expertise of the staff. But the comfortable feel of the place adds a relaxation and warmth to the aural experience which cannot be quantified. And I have no doubt that it adds to the success of our projects.

In the tiny, un-remodeled bathroom, the modern office phone hanging precariously over the stool has a laminated sheet with the speed dial codes for an impressive array of international news organizations and area food delivery operations. For a moment I thought about grabbing the phone and pushing the button marked "NPR Washington Desk" before regaining my professional composure.

Later, standing in the recording booth, I looked at the rows of reel-to-reel tapes holding raw interview audio. The spines read Woody Allen, Nelson Mandela, Bob and Ray, and so on. On that day we had to finish up on time because Alec Baldwin was headed in next to read some scripts.

Kristin and David in the recording booth

A while back I saw that Julia Child's kitchen had been carefully disassembled and reconstructed as a permanent display at the Smithsonian. I wonder if they could do that with Larry's place?

--Keith Porter

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