JOE FRANK -- Frequently Asked Questions

Joe Frank picture
WFMU's schedule of Joe Frank Shows

His own web site, at

These two 'sound bites' from Work in Progress provide a classic example of his radio sound:

from Lies, an early show
.au file (425K) .wav file (860K)
from On the Edge, a more recent program
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  1. Who is Joe Frank? (biography)
  2. What has he done? (Chronological Listing of radioprograms)
  3. How about CDs, video, writings and Internet? (list of his non-radio work, and other commentary)
  4. Is he still on the radio?
  5. Are tapes or CDs of the radio programs available?

1. Who is Joe Frank?

Joe Frank is not the host of a long-running New York talk show, and a different Joe Frank (Carollo) was responsible for those top-40 hits from the early 1970s. Joe Frank is best known for the weekly radio show he created in the studios of KCRW, Santa Monica between 1986 and 2002. His program is picked up by some of the more progressive public radio stations, since KCRW makes it available 'on the satellite' via SASS.

The following biography from KCRW is dated April 1990:

Joe Frank was born in Strasbourg, France of a Viennese mother and a Polish father. His family immigrated to New York City where Frank was raised and educated. Frank, who received a B.A. from Hofstra University, attended the Iowa Writers Workshop and subsequently taught at the Dalton School in Manhattan.

In the mid 70's Frank joined WBAI, the New York Pacifica station,as a volunteer. By 1977 he was the host of In The Dark, a late night entertainment program that featured Frank's monologues, improvised sketches, and live music. In 1978 Frank moved to Washington D.C., to anchor the weekend edition of All Things Considered on National Public Radio (NPR). From 1979 to 1985 he wrote, performed in, and produced 18 dramas for NPR Playhouse, garnering many broadcasting honors, including the 1982 Broadcast Media Award, the 1983 Radio Program Award from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, two consecutive Gold Awards at the International Radio Festival of New York(1983 & 1984), the American Nomination to the 1984 Prix Italia and a Special Commendation from the Berlin Prix Futura (1985).

In 1986, at the invitation of Ruth Hirschman [Seymour], general manager of KCRW, Frank moved to Los Angeles where he created his own weekly one-hour program, "Joe Frank: Work In Progress" at the Santa Monica-based NPR station. In 1988 Frank won both the prestigious Major Armstrong Award and the Corporation For Public Broadcasting Program Award for his three-part series Rent A Family.

In February 1989 Rent A Family was adapted and directed by Paul Verdier at Stages Trilingual Theater. In March of 1989 Frank gave his first one-man show ("Joe Frank: In Performance") at the Museum Of Contemporary Art's Ahmanson Theater.

Frank has published two plays, The Decline Of Spengler (New Directions 48, New York) and A Tour Of The City (Tanim Press, New York). A volume of fiction, The Queen Of Puerto Rico And Other Stories will be published by William Morrow next winter.

Montreal's Theater Anima will present Frank's award-winning A Tour Of The City at Hangar Number 9 of the Old Port of Montreal in June 1990. This drama, featuring a cast including performers from Cirque du Soleil, will be under the direction of Jordan Dietcher.

Michael Mann, creator of the television series "Miami Vice" and "Crime Story," has purchased the rights to Frank's radio monologue, Night and plans to adapt it for a feature film.

Starting in 1993, Joe changed the title of his weekly show to In The Dark. In early 1995 it was announced that Joe Frank would be 'taking a break' from In The Dark, and the program was removed from the KCRW schedule. Joe Frank began a new program called Somewhere Out There on KCRW in January 1996. The shows that year were all new monologues, but in following years, unlike previously, recycling of old material became common. In August 1997 Joe announced his departure from radio. In 1999 he returned with a new series, The Other Side, more reality-based, more confessional, a window into Joe's life (as well as others -- Larry Block's in particular). A cornerstone of this new series was Karma -- its story spilled over into many other programs. At the time of "Karma," The Other Side programs began containing excerpts from the lectures of Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. The Other Side ceased production in early 2002, and Joe's page at the KCRW website disappeared -- but now he has his own at

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2. What has he done? Chronological Listing of Joe Frank's radio programs

This listing began as the Work In Progress Program List received from KCRW in 1987. That list was then augmented as new shows were broadcast, but chronological accuracy cannot be guaranteed after early 1994, when the author moved outside the range of KCRW's broadcast radius.

Select a program's title to get more information: program length, cast members of dramas (based upon the credits announced at the conclusion of each program -- note that there may be misspellings!), occasional identifications of background music, and comments by the author. Usenet editions of this FAQ had all program information in a single document... This new hypertext version links to program details on a huge, separate page.

Various NPR Productions


Work In Progress


In The Dark


Somewhere Out There


The Other Side


3. How about CDs, video and writing? Non-radio productions and commentary

Joe Frank on screen:

A short video was presented at the Santa Monica Public Library in 1988. It showed Joe speaking in the KCRW studio, a woman driving up to a pay phone and making the calls heard in Thank You, You're Beautiful, and material from Pretender, including the scene of Joe with the pillows stuffed up his shirt.

Jerry Summers, one of Joe Frank's cohorts in the studio, said that "... Joe did a short for CBS for a late-night summer-replacement show called 'The Midnight Hour'. The piece was 'Memories', a re-working of a WIP story. It aired (as I recall) late August or early September 1990, on the final night of 'Midnight Hour'."

A short film has been aired as filler on the Los Angeles PBS station, KCET, showing a montage of urban images (among which is Joe at the microphone) accompanying the first segment from Islands.

Three shorts are available on Playboy's 'Inside Out' anthology series, released on videotape in 1992:

Joe Frank stars in these features.
... as well as that 1995 Zima commercial.
Joe provided the voice of the computer in Galaxy Quest (1999). He also had a small role (just a few lines) in "The Game" (a 1997 film), and has reportedly provided narration for the following cable television documentary programs: He's also done some commercials for Saturn.

Joe Frank in print:

An article about Joe called "Radio Noir" by Jamie Diamond can be found in the Los Angeles Times Magazine of Sunday, November 22, 1987. The Wall Street Journal profiled him in their March 15, 1988 edition (the illustration at the top of this page is from that column). Another article, by Dick Lochte, called "Frankly, Joe's Branching Out", appeared in the March 1989 issue of Los Angeles Magazine. Much more verbiage (generally quite favorable) appeared in the wake of the release of his book of short stories, The Queen of Puerto Rico, which was published in 1993 by William Morrow and Company of New York.

_Queen of Puerto Rico_cover Contents of The Queen of Puerto Rico, by Joe Frank:
Fat Man contains material from Dreams of the River, and Winter has similarities to When She's Asleep, She Looks like an Angel.

Joe Frank on Compact Disk:

Commercial recordings:
"Strange Cargo Hinterland" is a 1995 William Ørbit production, a CD on the Discovery label. The track "Montok Point" contains some brief monologues by Joe Frank.

Brazzaville released a "2002" CD in 1998 which features Joe on the "Ocean" track.

Other Recordings:
Some CDs issued on the European Moonraker label contain pieces of Joe Frank programs.

Joe Frank Online:

Until quite recently, there were several sites offering downloadable .MP3s of Joe Frank programs.

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4. Is he still on the radio?

Hear Joe Frank on the following stations:
WFMU 91.1 FM
WXHD-FM 90.1
East Orange, New Jersey
Thursdays at 7PM
New York, NY
Sundays at 11PM
WBEZ 91.5 FM
Chicago, Illinois
Sundays at 11PM
KDVS 90.3 FM
Davis, California
Saturdays at 11PM
KPFA 94.1 FM
KPFB 89.3
Berkeley, California
Sundays at 9PM
KFCF 88.1 FM
Fresno, California
Sundays at 10PM
More accurate, detailed radio listings available in the on-air section of Joe's site.

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5. Are tapes or CDs of the radio programs available?

Joe Frank's programs are available on CD for about $15 each at

Joe Frank
PO Box 491027
Los Angeles, CA 90049

...or shop on-line at

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Last-Modified: July 29, 2004
Version: 7.7
Author: Richard Looney
Disclaimer: The author of this FAQ is not associated with WFMU, KCRW or NPR; nor does he know Mr. Frank personally. This document is essentially a record of material heard on the radio, augmented with information submitted by other fans of Joe Frank. Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, errors may exist.