More precisely, born in Boston, Massachusetts in November 1956. My birth announcement, a radio tower, WSK.
My dad Stan Kaplan, worked at WMEX. Though only married about a year there was no doubt he was going to divorce my mother, their marriage a totally ill-conceived union. So, I wasn’t surprised to find this mention of my him during research for a book that I’m writing about radio. (slowly)
Stan Kaplan was the flamboyant Sales Manager of WMEX. One day he pulled Jack Gale
(a very talented disc jockey) aside and told him a secret. “I’m going to quit this job to
marry a woman with millions of dollars, and then I’m going to buy a radio station. And,
Kaplan said, “I want you to run it and become an owner.” “Yep,” thought Gale. “I’ve
heard that one before.”
Turn It Up American Radio Tales 1946 to 1996 by Bob Shannon
In 1964 Jack Gale got the call. Kaplan and his new wife Sis Kaplan had bought a station in Charlotte, North Carolina. As Gale tells it he got off the phone, called his wife and told her to pack up the house and the kids. Within a week, Gale drove from Boston to Charlotte. Together with my dad, my step mother and a posse of gutsy very young and very talented people they put BIG WAYS 61 on the map. Bringing Rock and Roll to a town that along with a roiling South would never be the same.
The first time I heard NPR’s All Things Considered was in the late 1970’s. I was an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts and running between a job bagging organic cranberries in a small health food store and class. I don’t remember the story, but I was blown away. So, I pulled the car over and dashed into a phone booth to call my dad. “It’s amazing. It’s called National Public Radio.” His response, “There’s no such thing.” As you might imagine I would remind him of his mistake, occasionally, for the rest of his life.
From that day on all I really wanted to do was to become a public radio reporter. But meandered first as a stage manager in the theater in Washington D.C. and NYC. By the time, I was ready to get a job in radio I took the easy route and jumped into sales. The lure of doing work that came easily, thanks to some kick ass DNA, a chance to get to know great commercial stations like WPRO in Rhode Island stayed appealing until I ran out of sales steam. Following a short stint as a talk show host at WHYN am in Springfield, Massachusetts I high tailed it to public radio station WFCR in Amherst and convinced the News Director to hire me as a freelancer. She did. And within a few months, in 1995, the station hired me. As it turns out this will be my last week at WFCR, now called NEPR. On June 5 th, I begin working at WGBH. Returning me to the city where, I truly believe, I was born to broadcast.
Serendipitously I was admitted to the Public History Master’s program at UMass Amherst last year. I’ve been the local All Things Considered host at FCR/NEPR recently and the station allows me to take one seminar a semester. Still, the instant I walked into the class room I fell in love with the students, faculty and concepts, equally awed by how much I had to learn and slightly overwhelmed by the work load.
During my academic foray, like my partners in this endeavor, I’ve thought about ways to preserve, amplify and create broad and innovative public radio style narratives. Wondering about their use in the larger mandate of education. At our workshop, I’ll be talking about an idea for a hybrid course. Part journalism, part history and likely of interest to students in other disciplines that will use actual pub radio archives. In the process, it will digitize sound that’s stashed in storage at public radio stations around the country, on cassettes, mini discs and even good old fashioned reel to reel. I believe the curriculum is a win-win.