Tuesday, November 1, 2011

RIP, Sound Guy

Seems the main reason I had to continue listening to Garrison Kellior’s “Prairie Home Companion” has passed on.

Tom Keith, long-time “sound guy” for the radio show, died Sunday at age 64. Bob Collins of Minnesota Public Radio has posted a fitting tribute here.

I’ve long been a fan of old-time radio – a fandom started by my mother, who found cassette tapes of the old “Fibber McGee and Molly” and “Amos ‘n’ Andy” radio shows to listen to, harking back to her own childhood. And even before that, using a home tape recorder, we three younger Davidson siblings recorded our own shows, complete with shrieks, slamming doors, footprints and, as I recall, one taped “murder” in which I playfully wailed on my younger brother who snatched the recorder away while it was in use.

Radio sound fascinated me. Forgetting the script, the actors emoting – for me, what brought the world of radio to life was the sound, from the creepy footsteps in some of Vincent Price’s or Peter Lorre’s pieces to the clamorous clatter that was Fibber’s famous closet.

Tom Keith understood that world. So to listen to his horse whinnies, exotic animals, gunshots and footsteps during Kellior’s rather moribund radio program helped keep the show alive and interesting for me. Don’t know what I’m going to listen to now.

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