From Bill Cavness
Friends have often asked me why I chose to devote my lifetime career to radio, when my entry into the field of broadcasting dates far enough back that I could have been a pioneer in television, or at least in public television.
My answer today is the same one I’ve always used: radio, with its appeal to a single sense, forces me to keep my imagination working, while television somehow blocks much of its use. When I listen to a play on the air, I design the sets and the costumes and the lighting — even the faces and the characters’ movements. When I watch the same play, other people have done those things, and I must accept their taste and judgment.
For going on 28 years, I have tried in the Reading Aloud series to present works of fiction and non-fiction in a way that allows you, imaginatively, to take part in the broadcast — even with Chamberworks and other concerts, to establish a You-Are-There feeling, so that in hearing a late Beethoven quartet well-played, you feel all dressed up in Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes and sitting in a handsome auditorium surrounded by other music lovers.
Sometimes my T-shirt and tattered jeans and bare feet and reclining chair make that sort of fantasy an uphill pull, but I feel that the mind needs exercise just as much as the body does. Maybe that’s why I’m always a little startled at your generous response to a book of factual prose, as compared to lively, active fiction. That is certainly why I prefer music recorded during public performance, as opposed to perhaps-slicker studio performances which allow for editing, or re-takes, to eliminate the chances of slight mishap always present in live presentations.
At this writing, Reading Aloud has established a record for a continuous series of its kind, and Chamberworks will very soon reach the 1,000-program mark: a thousand hours of music and not one commercial recording! May both continue at least that much more.
Bill Cavness begins the narration of the 1957 film Discovering Discovery, detailing the making of the NET program series Discovery with Mary Lela Grimes (now Sherburne).