Larry Josephson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Larry Josephson is an award-winning public radio producer. Since 1965 he has worked in the field of public broadcasting as a producer, host, station manager, engineer, teacher, writer and consultant. His first show at listener-supported radio station WBAI in New York was influential in developing the free-form radio style of the 1960s and 1970s.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Josephson grew up in Los Angeles, attended Alexander Hamilton High School. He once claimed his High School major was "existential calisthenics."[3] He attended the University of California at Berkeley where he received a BA in Linguistics with a minor in Mathematics, which took him 6 years over 16.[4] He was a systems analyst and programmer with IBM from 1962 to 1964; designed OS/360 Job Control Language.


Unhappy with his lonely life as an engineer in a cubicle at IBM, he volunteered at WBAI – a listener-supported radio station in New York City. By 1966 he was the host of In the Beginning, the "grumpy" morning program.[5] His unique mix of phone calls, politics, alternative culture, cranky humor, interviews, personal confessions and music while he sipped coffee and ate bagels led him to become one of the station's most popular personalities.[2] His morning shows, like those of late night's Bob Fass and Steve Post, became the archetypes of the station's free-form style, which became the precursor to much of the alternative FM radio programming which started in the 1960s and 1970s.[2][6] Audience members would wake up to whatever caught Josephson's fancy each day. For example, after the release of The Beatles' "Lady Madonna" in March 1968, Josephson liked the song so much that he played it over and over for two hours.[7] He also once played a marathon session of every recording of "Celeste Aida" ever made, taking up two days.

Josephson became the Assistant Manager of WBAI, and oversaw the design and construction of the station when it moved to a new location in 1971. He was the General Manager of the station from 1974 until 1976. In the beginning continued until 1972. Another of Josephson's shows Bourgeois Liberation ran on WBAI from 1979 to 1984.[4]

Bob & Ray[edit]

Josephson worked to revive the careers of Bob & Ray. He developed and produced 26 half-hour public radio shows called Classic Bob & Ray which surveyed their entire career. He also developed and produced The Bob and Ray Public Radio Show from 1981 until 1986. This show was broadcast on 250 stations and received several awards including a Peabody award. The show, was later nominated for three Grammy Awards after it was released on cassettes. In 1984 Josephson produced Bob & Ray: A Night of Two Stars at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Both performances were sold out, and an audio cassette produced from the performance was nominated for a Grammy.[8]

Teaching, seminars, consulting and writing[edit]

Josephson taught radio production at NYU and The New School. With funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts, he co-produced the Airlie Seminars on the Art of Radio four times between 1977 and 1983. He is also the editor of Telling the Story, NPR's Guide to Journalism. published in 1981. He has also served as a consultant to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Public Radio, the Carnegie Commission on the Future of Public Broadcasting, NTIA and individual public radio stations.[4]

Radio productions[edit]

  • In the Beginning – WBAI, 1966–72
  • The Colgate Human Comedy Hour – KPFA, 1972–73
  • The Little People or Think Big – KPFA, a documentary about a visit to a dwarf convention. Received an Armstrong Award.
  • Bourgeois Liberation – WBAI, 1979–84
  • Classic Bob & Ray
  • The Bob and Ray Public Radio Show – 1981–86
  • Modern Times – KCRW, WNYC, American Public Radio 1988–93
  • BRIDGES: A Liberal/Conservative Dialogue – CPB 1994–1999.[9]
  • Bloomsday on Broadway (with Isaiah Sheffer) – live marathon readings of James Joyce's Ulysses. 1981–91.[10]
  • What Is Judaism? 1999–
  • Only in America – a 6-hour history of Jewish-Americans[11]


  1. ^ "A Brief History of Freeform Radio". WFMU. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
  2. ^ a b c Fisher, Marc (2007). Something in the air: radio, rock, and the revolution that shaped a generation. Random House. pp. 146–153. ISBN 9780375509070.
  3. ^ McDougal, Dennis (July 16, 1988). "Return of the Native". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  4. ^ a b c "Biography of Larry Josephson". Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  5. ^ Gould, Jack (November 22, 1966). "Radio: Satirical Relish for Antisocial Breakfasters; Larry Josephson Is a Boon to the Grumpy WBAI Offers a Relief From Cheerfulness". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  6. ^ Land, Jeff (1999). Active radio: Pacifica's brash experiment. U of Minnesota Press. pp. 116–117. ISBN 9780816631575.
  7. ^ Mitchell, Sean (March 1, 1992). "RADIO — Gotham Grump — Larry Josephson is the host of a public-radio show. He's liberal, in an old-fashioned way, politically incorrect--and really angry". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  8. ^ Hinckley, David (March 20, 2008). "Bob & Ray's comic capers live on". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  9. ^ Goodman, Walter (July 29, 1994). "TV-RADIO WEEKEND;A Quest for a Long-Buried Truth About a U.F.O". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  10. ^ Smith, Dinitia (June 16, 2001). "Time for Bloom to Resume His Everlasting Odyssey". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  11. ^ Hinckley, David (September 15, 2007). "Radio series offers 6-hour history of Jews in 'America'". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2009-09-23.

External links[edit]

  • – a division of the Radio Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit radio production company founded by Larry Josephson