Homeless Ted Williams: “Radio is defined: Theater of mind!” (Looking Back at Wolfman Jack & “American Graffiti”)
Geekosystem offers a transcript of my favorite Ted Williams quote:
>> When I was 14 I kind of listened to one of our area radio announcers, and I went as a field trip to go meet the guy, and he looked nothing like what he sounded like. So I asked him about that, and he said to me, “listen, radio is defined — theater of mind.” And so when he said “theater of mind,” I just said, well, hey. I can’t be an actor, I can’t be an on-air personality, but the voice just became something of a development over the years and I went to school for it.
And then alcohol and drugs and a few other things became a part of my life. I’ve got two years clean, and I’m trying hard to get it back. And hopefully somebody from one of these television or radio stations will say, ‘hey, I need a voice-over,’ or ‘ I need something.’ <<
When I worked as a free-lance music journalist from ’81 to ’94, radio was my favorite medium. As it was when I was in my early teens: I secretly stayed up until 11 p.m. and tuned in to RTL Luxembourg (1439 on the AM dial). At that time, RTL Radio switched from the German to the English service and I was able to enjoy DJs like Honey Bee Benson (what a great name!) and Johnnie Walker.
Listening to English-language DJs on late-night radio in my darkened ‘children’s room’ (German term: Kinderzimmer) at low volume (didn’t want my nagging mother to know) added the “Theater of Mind” feel mentioned byTed Williams.
A few years later in my teens, I also turned into a serious movie fan. Back then, there was a flick which perfectly expressed the “theater” aspect: George Lucas’ “American Graffiti” (still an all-time favorite of mine).
To me, the pivotal scene of the movie has always been Curt’s (Richard Dreyfuss’) discovery that his favorite DJ Wolfman Jack (German Wikipedia entry) didn’t look as cool as the Wolfman’s gravelly-voiced radio persona made him (Curt) believe.
Here’s a clip of that scene (please forgive the bad quality):
That’s radio! I keep my fingers crossed that Ted Williams will become part of the magic again.