The pioneering radio artist, Joe Frank, died one week ago on January 15, 2018 at the age of 79. Frank produced an extensive and unique body of work during a career of over forty years. Known for his monologues and ensemble casts of characters, Frank utilized both scripted and improvised segments that were set to entrancing music that propelled the mood, action, and emotion of his novel form of storytelling.
Attuned to the philosophical quandaries of life, a deep humor runs through every dramatic episode as Frank employs any manner of historical, cultural, and artistic references to explore and express the absurdities and follies of human existence. In certain respects, Frank is a great moral fabulist who revels in chaos as much as he rebels against it, either with or without cause. His art is truly sui generis, and resistant to facile description; it is best to simply listen to the work itself to understand and appreciate Frank's radio alchemy.
Some of Frank's shows are still being broadcast on various radio stations around the country, including WFMU and KCRW, and the Joe Frank website offers several options to purchase his work, including CDs, DVDs, flashdrives, as well as streaming subscriptions. A number of tributes have been offered in the last several days, a compilation of which can also be found at the Joe Frank website. Slate magazine has just published his last interview, "Joe Frank Signs Off," and his obituary has appeared in the New York Times, among other publications.
The above video is a trailer for D.P. Carlson's documentary, "Joe Frank: Somewhere Out There," which will be released later this year.