My kind of radio is that which takes into account the intelligence of my audience. I do not believe in talking down. I also brought to the microphone my concerns; my feeling about society; my feeling about war and peace; my feeling about man as a species that is developing and for which we cherish hopes, frequently dashed, as they are at the moment. Certainly long delayed. We’re not speaking too long after the terrible event of September 11, 2001.
I really believe that had the great poets of yore been around today, or men of their caliber, they would opt for radio because radio is a medium that sets up the listener as a collaborator. Whereas television, which is by far the richest and more potent medium today, is very literal. Radio demands, requires the collaboration, just as a good book does: the collaboration being between the writer and the reader. Here it is between the writer and the listener.
What radio has the capacity to offer is an embellishment, is thoughtfulness, is an opportunity to express concepts, to witness a war, to comment upon its ramifications, its progress, its justice or injustice, its horror, its goals, with something approaching dignified language. I don’t mean that in the sense of starchy or high falutin,’ but something that is not a gutter, something that is more than a gut reaction.
Some day I hope that there will be enough of an audience so that radio, as you and I know it, can be revitalized, can return. It exists in small measure now. That kind of radio has retreated to higher ground, [at] work that is done by dramatists who are broadcast by NPR, by PRI. Public radio is the high ground.
My last six programs, done with the help and inspiration of Mary Beth Kirchner, were broadcast nationally and they enjoyed the kind of freedom that I had in the days of Bill Paley and Bill Lewis. They had pretty good audiences. I was surprised by the number of people who spent money to acquire cassettes of some of those programs. So it is not as though we’re talking about an extinct form of broadcasting.