Joe Frank died last week.
Oddly enough, I had been thinking about his remarkable radio show recently. When I lived in Palo Alto, and was commuting over Highway 17 to finish my undergraduate degree at UC Santa Cruz, I used to listen to Joe Frank on either KQED or KAZU (I’m not sure whether they were both airing his shows). He apparently started the show that I listened to in 1986, which was a year before I graduated. A few years later, I am guessing that his voice accompanied me on many return trips over the hill to the Santa Cruz coastline when I was struggling to adjust to life after my first divorce – especially those painful nights when my daughter was at her dad’s house, and I felt totally unhinged and disconnected. Joe Frank’s wild meandering stories somehow gave me comfort, and I remember them with a deep sense of gratitude and affection.
Radio is an extraordinary medium. I think particularly when listening to the spoken voice in the car, on a long trip at night, having someone on the radio talking…telling a story…sharing their emotions…is a powerful experience.
I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to search for podcasts of Joe Frank’s work. But, with his recent death, I was plunged into reminiscence with the many tributes to him that aired recently. I was particularly struck by one interview that I heard that remarked on how few people seem to know of his work. In fact, I confirmed this, informally, yesterday, when I was sitting at a table having dinner with friends who are all around my age, and I asked if anyone had heard of him, and NO ONE HAD!!! I find that so depressing, so I’m hopeful that this post may go towards repairing this lack of appreciation for a radio and story-telling genius.