Radio men and women artists shine a singular light. Reaching only our auditory perception, they bring story, drama, music and memory along with companionship to their audience in the fullest of our imagination. Most sound folks working in music and film hold a special place in their hearts for the fading art of radio production.
Last week saw the passing of two such lights. Smiling as I write this I’m thinking how different in style and persona they were and yet both totally devoted to their radio art.
In the magical days of radio drama and documentary, Pierse Plowright was a visionary artist. Last week, at aged 83, he quietly left this earthly stage. From 1968 to 1997 Piers created award winning radio drama, features and documentary stories for the BBC. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His use of silence was as profound as any sound effect. Piers was a friend, a colleague of many audio arts teachers, and a home-town man, having been born and living his life in Hampstead, London where his father, Dr Oliver Plowright, was known as “Hampstead’s doctor”. He also taught radio artists, journalists, all those wanting to, or could only, use sound and silence to tell their stories. He was known, collected, and owned even, by the arts world of London’s NW3, a community not unlike our West Marin.
If radio, art, drama, literature or music is a part of our lives then the loss of such a radio voice leaves a big gap. Charlie Morgan was one such voice at KWMR.org. Charlie left suddenly, shockingly, to those who knew him. Charlie found his voice through KWMR and since 1995, from the very beginning of the station, for 26 years, he was there. Small in stature, big in heart and voice, often as infuriating as he was wonderful he was a mainstay cog of KWMR. His program, ‘Musical Varietee’ covered the range of his interests. Music, theatre and sport were passions he shared with us all in equal part. My memories of Charlie are profound. I learnt about baseball while listening to his enthusiastic commentary on the games from Love Field. I can see him on a ladder, hammer in hand, a mouth full of nails, and yet still able to give instructions, helping to build not one, but two, radio stations as we moved into and out of the Old Red Barn and then into the Creamery building.
Piers had been delighted when he learnt of KWMR and quickly gifted me a CD of an eclectic mix of short programs ‘The Shadow Knows’ for the station. Maybe “Setting Sail” is right for this moment as those of us who live close by the sea, think of friends and lovers past. With Charlie’s love of drama and understanding of literature, I cannot but think he would smile and enjoy it too, giving me a
“Right on Sister.” as he nods, ‘this is how it can be’.
This has been A letter from A. Broad
Written and read for you by Muriel Murch
First Aired on Swimming Upstream KWMR.org
Web support by murchstudio.com