For the past month or so, I’ve been whining about Dick Gordon ending his APM production Dick Gordon’s: The Story. And, the fact is I’m already mourning it and the show has only been off air for a few days. Dick Gordon did something I find masterful and can totally relate to; he kept silent, letting his guests tell the story. Only prompting in between his questions when it was absolutely necessary, often creating huge amounts of dead air – something that goes against everything radio is about. Dead air is a death knell in radio, but Dick made it an art form. Not only did it force his guests to keep talking to fill the silence, it also created a cadence steeped in suspense for the listener.
In this modern world full of images, noise and cool technological devices aimed at grabbing our attention, Dick was able to create a sphere in which we happily used the mind in rapt unison with our ears to engage and be entertained by the stories of people from all walks of life. No images, no background score to intensify the mood, just great personal experiences told through the art of the spoken word. Oftentimes, I would listen to Dick in the car and would pull over because I found myself so captured by the story. A lot of times, I ended up going ten or twenty miles out of my way by accident!
There are far too few quality story-telling outlets on radio these days. At least, not the way Dick did it. Ira Glass does a great job with This American Life, but it’s not presented in the same casual free flowing manner like The Story. Certainly, a lot of people would say radio is dead anyway and that’s an understandable attitude given how interactive and personalized our entertainment choices have become. But, I think it’s sad. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, maybe it’s because I’m becoming a curmudgeon, but I like being able to create scenes in my head to the words of someone else’s experiences. Even though I’m a visual guy by and large, having the option of being able to see someone else’s interpretation of a scene and creating my own has always been important to me. However, if the quality of radio programs isn’t there, then the landscape is barren and radio will die. That’s a horrible thought. Sure, you can buy a la carte on Sirus/XM or whatever other satellite feed becomes available. But what fun is that? Chasing content all over the radio dial is what makes the ultimate end so much more satisfying. (That’s definitely the aging curmudgeon talking right there.)
Last summer, Dick produced a series of authors reading their short stories on air. I was really entranced by a Ron Rash story Something Rich and Strange. This story, told by its author on air; to me, is far more gripping than it is on the written page. It’s 12 minutes long, but you have to listen to it. It will grab you. Here it is:
Dick has over two thousand stories on his website that the program produced during its time on air. I would highly recommend spending some time perusing through and enjoying his talent in bringing real, solid, interesting entertainment to your ears.