Joe 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, Steve Reich, Tangerine Dream,Can, Air, and Antonio Carlos Jobim.The repetitive cadence of the 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 (not the playwright), broken into segments over the course of each hour-long program.
Joe Frank began his career in 1976 at WBAI, in New York City. In his Saturday night show, “In the Dark,” he experimented with live freeform radio featuring his monologues and actor improvisations. It was during this period that Joe’s bizarre and original vision quickly drew increasingly larger audiencesIn 1978, Joe was hired to co-anchor Weekend Edition on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” But a life in journalism soon lost its appeal, and Joe returned to producing radio shows for NPR Playhouse.
Over the course of the next three decades Joe produced over two hundred radio programs for KCRW, Santa Monica, and NPR. Throughout his career, Joe has been honored with many major industry awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award, and an Emmy. Over the years Joe’s distinctive approach to making radio has inspired producers around the country to experiment with and stretch the medium beyond traditional boundaries.