Larry Josephson 1939-2022
- Upper West Side 07/27/2022 by Jennie Josephson (WBAI)

Dear friends and family, 

Larry Josephson has passed away. He died Wednesday, July 27th, 2022, a little before, or after 10pm. (He was never all that concerned with exact start and end times, as those of you who listened to WBAI know.) 

Larry, 83, had been suffering from the effects of Parkinson's disease, and was increasingly a prisoner in his own body. His passing is marked by sadness, but also relief. When I arrived at my dad's side Wednesday night, shortly after his passing, there was static on the radio by his bed. Please know that Larry J is at peace, and probably already kibitizing with Steve Post and Bob Fass and the rest of his amazing friends who preceded him to the freeform radio station on the other side of the static.  

Larry arrived in this world the same year as The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and Dark Victory. He grew up listening to the radio—the Lone Ranger, of course, but also late night Los Angeles radio oddball. Wikipedia can take it from here, as I was not yet born.

"Unhappy with his lonely life as an engineer in a cubicle at IBM, he volunteered at WBAI – a listener-supported radio station in New York City. By 1966 he was the host of In the Beginning, the "grumpy" morning program.[5] His unique mix of phone calls, politics, alternative culture, cranky humor, interviews, personal confessions and music while he sipped coffee and ate bagels led him to become one of the station's most popular personalities.[2] His morning shows, like those of late night's Bob Fass and Steve Post, became the archetypes of the station's free-form style, which became the precursor to much of the alternative FM radio programming which started in the 1960s and 1970s.[2][6] Audience members would wake up to whatever caught Josephson's fancy each day. For example, after the release of The Beatles' "Lady Madonna" in March 1968, Josephson liked the song so much that he played it over and over for two hours.[7] He also once played a marathon session of every recording of "Celeste Aida" ever made, taking up two days."

Larry went on to produce many more radio shows: Modern Times, a chronicle of cultural life in the 1980's, Bridges: A Liberal Conservative Dialogue, which explored the roots of the Republican Revolution, and Only in America: The Story of American Jews, in which he interviewed Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

Larry's legacy is more than just his radio shows. It is contained in the generations of public radio engineers, producers and talent who he hired, fired and recommended to others. In other words, all of you who have made the public radio airwaves so special. (Informal survey: Please raise your hand if Larry gave you your first job in radio.)

Larry was a complicated man. He was a good dad, a difficult dad, a wonderful friend, a relentless and public nemesis, and a royal pain in the tush. He yelled too much. He ate too much. But you can never love life too much, and at that he excelled. 

Larry is survived by his sister Susan Josephson; his two daughters, Jennie Josephson and Rebecca Josephson; his son Gregory Alker and wife Susan Alker, and Larry's grandchildren Brandon and Natalie Alker. In passing, he joins his mother Marian Tyre Josephson, his father Adrian Josephson, and his and Charity Alker's baby daughter Rachel Josephson. I hope that wherever they reunite, he will be nicer to his mother this time. 

Special thanks to Valerie Josephson, my mother, who has been at my side all my life, but especially thanks for helping me excavate Larry's apartment this past year.

Please forward this to any and all who knew Larry. 


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