The Medium is the Massett

"There are always town parks along the river where boat landings used to be and railroads used to stop, and people go there to sit and talk. And talk and talk and talk and they don't care if a stranger hauls out a tape recorder for no reason. I still think this is the best way to collect tape: randomly, for no reason, and in no hurry."

--Larry Massett, Third Coast Festival- Interview

Larry Massett is the Story Editor for (((HearingVoices))). He has corralled many of our unruly, runaway stories back into a coherent structure. Below are some of his audio-works and his thoughts on making great radio stories...

Larry and his dog driving
Larry & Bo Chasing Stories on the Mississippi
(© 1984 Scott Carrier) more photos --»

Years ago I had a side job playing piano for a ballet class.

There the teacher was an ancient and highly inflammable Russian. One day he called a halt in the middle of some group exercise. "Amanda, "he rasped, "come forward and do these steps by yourself."

She did, the poor girl.

"See," he said, "Did you all see that? Only Amanda is dancing the meaning. She has heart, sincerity, passion, refinement. Compared to her the rest of you are a bunch of sticks. Amanda, you are a genius." She began to feel much better.

"Unfortunately my dear, " he added. "You'll never dance on stage. Your neck's too short."

--Larry Massett, Transom- Special Guest

ROAD RADIO by Larry Massett

Man on tugboat soundfiles Hannibal: The Ghost of Mark Twain 1984 (w/ Scott Carrier)

(24:47) Hannibal was a decrepit and ghostly little town. People kept telling us about haunted houses and mysterious lights. The pilot of the tugboat was bored and took a liking to us. His favorite pastime was to put the tug in a 360-degree spin and blast down the river while chugging Buds. "I am an alcoholic," he said. "Every now and then I go to AA to get in touch with reality. On the other hand," he added, popping another Bud as the boat whirled around, "screw reality." Featured at WBEZ Third Coast Festival.

Larry and his mom soundfiles Travels with Mom 2002

(13:10) These days, taking mom for out for a day-trip doesn't involve going very far in distance, as it does back in time. Tybee Island, Georgia, now and in the 1920's, as seen by Mrs. Massett. Premiered on PRI/MPR Savvy Traveler.

Dog and woman in flags on motorcycle soundfiles Armpit of America 2003

(14:33) Few towns would appreciate being called the armpit of America; fewer still would covet the title, and celebrate it with an armpit festival. Welcome to Battle Mountain, Nevada: a weekend with rodeo riders, Basque miners, and stock-car racers. Premiered on PRI/MPR Savvy Traveler. (Photo by Scott Carrier)

Painting by Molenaer soundfiles Trip to the Dentist 1981

(15:29) "I live in a little town about 10 miles up the river from Washington DC. In this town there are all kinds of different people: lawyers, writers, rednecks, investment bankers, carpenters, veterinarians, a bunch of guys who make pizza, and one guy who makes sushi. But there are no dentists. You have to plan well ahead of time, and think long and hard before you go to a dentist around here. That's my excuse anyway. And... the excuse for taping this trip to dentist? Well, that's the great thing about radio. You don't have to have to have am important topic. All you need is a microphone, imagination and... some teeth."

"I'd be surprised if All Things Considered would run these pieces today. Even back in '84 or '85, Robert Siegel had a problem with them. He asked me to meet him in his office to discuss the Hannibal show.

"The way you use music," he said, "I can't tell what's real and what's not. Is that the sound of the tugboat or is it music?

Hmm ... he was right, I had added creepy synthesizer sounds here and there ... how to explain it?

"It's the style." I said "It's...." It's what? Think fast. "It's Neo-Gothic," I said.


"Exactly. Neo-Gothic."

"I see," he said. "Well, I agree with you. Or I would if I had any idea what you're talking about."

--Larry Massett, Third Coast Festival- Interview

Larry Massett stories from

Tombstone, with picture of car in City of the Dead soundfiles Long Day on The Road 2002

(13:38) "I can break the law because... I am the law." Sleepless in Tbilisi. A twenty-four hour tour, from Turkish baths to Batumi beaches, through the country of Georgia. High-speed sight-seeing driven by the accidental tourguide: "a 'detective,' or 'special police,' or 'security force.' It's not clear. Sometimes he even says 'KGB,' though that no longer exists... does it?" Premiered on PRI/MPR Savvy Traveler.

Batumi market soundfiles Batumi Blues 2003

(12:12) A tale of disappearing train ticket offices, life-limited electric fans and the eccentricities of existence in the post-Soviet republic of Georgia. Batumi, a Black Sea port by the Turkish border prospered in the Soviet era with booming oil refineries and tangerine groves. Now it's showing signs of post-imperial decay. Premiered on PRI/MPR Savvy Traveler.

Gravestones in Batumi
City of the Dead (gravestones), Batumi, Georgia
(© 2002 Larry Massett) more photos --»

LANGUAGE REMOVAL Larry Massett reports

Nose and mouth soundfiles Language Removal Services 2003

(4:47) Language without the words, leaving only the breaths, lip-smacks, ums and ahs: "These frozen portraits of a person's speaking habits outline a spirit or soul that underlies that language," reports the Language Removal Service. ""laboratory that is the only one of its kind in the world -- facilities include our state-of-the-art vocal observation chamber and a special storage facility for our archives, including the world-famous Raymond Chronic Static Language library." Premiered on NPR All Things Considered.

California recall debate soundfiles Language Removal & the Calififornia Recall 2003

(2:37) Douglas Fleishut, one of the founders of Language Removal Services has turned his attention to the candidates in the California recall election. Premiered on NPR All Things Considered .

AUDIO ESSAYS by Larry Massett

South African street sign, intersetcion of Princess Magogo Steeet and King Dinuzulu Highway soundfiles Speaking in Clicks 2003

(3:25) How to use the Zulu click language in embarrassing social situations. Premiered on PRI/MPR Savvy Traveler.

London street map soundfiles London Street Theatre 2002

(4:04) On the streets of London's Theatre Distrcit: "then they were screaming at each other, and she swept the silverware off the table, threw the water at him, smashed the glass on the ground, and stormed off." Premiered on PRI/MPR Savvy Traveler.


Andrei Codrescu at amusement park soundfiles Eyes of Sibiu by Larry Massett & Andrei Codrescu 2003

(12:15) Andrei returns to Romania, his homeland. "Look at the old lady looking out. She's been looking out for three hundred years. And she's still curious. She looks like she's seen everyone: the Romans in their sandals, Germans in jackboots, gypsies with feet of silver, and the communists in their dialectical slippers; and pretty soon, the rollerblades will be coming. She's not going anywhere." Premiered on PRI/MPR Savvy Traveler.

Wildly painted trailer soundfiles Poetry Combine 2004

(7:37) A trio of poetry students from Louisiana State University are introduced to the poets on the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans, with the assignment to write poems about the people they met. The combine encounters a hot dog vendor, a stripper and a club owner. Premiered on NPR All Things Considered .