Andrew Leland hosts and produces the Organist, an arts-and-culture podcast from KCRW and McSweeney’s. He’s a lecturer in the Journalism department at UMass-Amherst. (September 2018)

NYR DAILY

The Radio Auteur: Joe Frank, Ira Glass, and Narrative Radio

Joe Frank working for KCRW

Through his broadcasts over the course of forty years, Joe Frank, who died at seventy-nine this past January, brought the notion of the auteur to American radio. His legacy lives on in the work of Ira Glass, and Glass’s own outsize influence on radio and now podcasting, where many of the best shows don’t aim to break news or provide trenchant analysis. Instead, they prize, above all, narrative tension and surprise. It’s in Frank’s approach to radio itself, the sense of radio not as a medium of mass communication, a place for traffic reports and newscasts, but rather as a site for artistic expression as fertile as the canvas or page.