On this edition of HowSound, set the “Way-Back Machine” to 1977 for a legendary story — Larry Massett’s psychedelic “A Trip to the Dentist.”
The piece is legendary in public radio circles for two reasons. One, it was assembled on three, reel-to-reel tape decks — a process Larry says pushed the limits of the studios at NPR where it was produced and aired on All Things Considered.
Second, “A Trip to the Dentist” represents a time gone by, a time when NPR and public radio in general experimented a lot more with sound.
Maybe with the advent of Radiolab and 99% Invisible along with the popularity of the Third Coast International Audio Festival (which sold out this year, by the way), we’re seeing a return to risky, experimental story-telling. That would be a good thing, if you ask me. But I’m not quite sure we’ve reached the halcyon days of the 1970s and early 1980s when flagship public radio programs and stations encouraged and broadcast sonically challenging work.
We're not giving up on that.
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