Use the player below to listen to the full recording of Larry Josephson’s monologue “An Inconvenient Jew : my life in radio” performed live at the Cornelia Street Cafe in New York City on January 23, 2012.
Larry Josephson has been making trouble on the radio since 1966, starting as WBAI’s infamous grumpy morning man. The competition, John Gambling and his ilk, were pushing oleaginous treacle on morning radio. Larry broke all the rules of radio: he ate his breakfast on the air, insulted listeners at a time when Howard Stern was crawling around Levittown in leather diapers. He told the story of his life on the radio, or as much as the FCC and the libel laws would allow.
Larry’s program, In The Beginning (1966-72) became the morning switchboard of the “revolution.” He never prepared, just opened the mic and talked, connecting his id and his heart directly to the transmitter. Larry read from the Times over the music of his favorite composers, Ravi Shankar and John Philip Sousa; took calls from students telling tales out of school; announced demonstrations, sometimes mocking causes dear to his lefty listeners. Katie, a four-year-old going on 40, and Lisa, age 14, called in every morning to tell Larry what was happening in their lives.
Larry will explain how a nice Jewish boy from 1950’s Los Angeles became a nonconformist, an intellectual juvenile dilenquent. “I owe everything to Dwight David Eisenhower, who gave his name to an era of smug self-satisfaction and conformity. “I worked against that zeitgeist,” said Josephson. “When I graduated from Junior High School, the principal handed me my diploma and said, ‘Good luck, Josephson, you’ll need it.’ ”
“After five years of math and physics at Berkeley, I knew almost nothing about life, the life of the mind, or sex (I was a virgin when I walked into WBAI). During the six years the program lasted, I got a real education in politics, literature, music, love, death and sex–and the dark side of the left. I’ve seen the left with its pants down. Not a pretty sight.”
The program came to an abrupt end when an infant daughter he had with his first wife, died. “I was too grief stricken to continue doing confessional radio.” The marriage died with the baby. Larry returned to radio after a year of academic rehab in Berkeley. Sixteen years after he entered as a freshman Larry finally graduated with a degree in Linguistics. Governor Ronald Reagan conferred the title “punning linguist” on Larry at a special ceremony held in the third subbasement of Sproul Hall.
Larry Josephson’s debut monologue is dedicated to the memory of his dear friend, mentor and model, Spalding Gray.
Produced by Larry Josephson, Jennie Josephson, Matthew Flanagan & Nellie Gilles. Monologue title: Matthew Flanagan. Photo: Dana Ullman. Sound design: Robert Auld. Special thanks to Robin Hirsch, Angelo Verga, John Morrison & Joshua Rebell and the chef of The Cornelia Street Cafe.