Joe Frank died Jan 15 in California. Joe was perhaps the unsurpassed practitioner of surrealist, radio drama in the late Twentieth Century. From the mid-1980s to the turn of the Millennium Joe broadcast his bizarre, delightful and disturbing pieces from the Santa Monica, CA public radio station KCRW. Joe was the logical successor of the beat era, "word jazz" genius, Ken Nordine. Not surprisingly, Ira Glass, the force behind “This American Life” once served as Joe’s intern. Despite being the toast of the town, Joe’s broadcast platform fell out from under him when a station manager, with a reportedly controlling personality, consigned him first to Sunday mornings, a time ill-suited to his noir musings, and then fired him entirely from KCRW in the early Double Ohs.
During Joe's 15 plus year hey-day of Saturday night broadcasts, adults without a baby-sitters, teen-agers without funds, and a small legion of loyal fans would dim the lights and then revel in an hour or so of utterly bizarre worlds. Telephone rants by former lovers, collided with coup d’etats in not quite mythical places, while animal stampedes through restaurants displaced characters who seemed to resemble people you knew on their worst and most hilarious day.
Joe's imagination captured filmmaker Kevin Kerslake. Kevin created enduring and award winning music videos in those years for the likes of Nirvana, Sound Garden, REM, the Rolling Stones, Simple Minds, Mazie Starr and Prince. He also made this short film based on one of Joe Frank’s stories. Perhaps more importantly, Kevin directed “Bad Reputation” the bio-doc on Joan Jett that premieres this week at the Sundance Film Festival: http://www.sundance.org/projects/bad-reputation