Sunday, January 06, 2008

Harry Shearer's love affair with radio - NYT

The Simpsons-Harry Shearer-Radios - New York Times: "It was at the peak of radio’s popularity that Harry Shearer was born in 1943 in Los Angeles. He tuned in quickly: not only was he a child actor whose first gig was on Jack Benny’s radio show (“I was passing as a child,” he said), but he had a feverish fascination with radio itself. As a boy, he looked down on the Art Deco carved-wood radio console in his family’s living room, preferring the more sensitive RCA model in his room (“an early vomit-green plastic radio”), which he fiddled with nightly like a junior Marconi.

“I would try and find the most distant station possible,” he said. “I knew something happened when it left Hollywood and then came bouncing back from across the country a half a second later. It sounded weirdly magical to me. If there was stuff in the air, I wanted to receive it.”

Today the vomit-green RCA exists only in the Smithsonian of his memory. A dedicated hobbyist in the radio tradition, Mr. Shearer has gone through 40 to 50 radios: a Hallicrafters table-size shortwave, an early Sony ICF and countless others, big, small, portable and pocket-size."


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