Gary Dell'Abate, a.k.a. “Baba Booey,” has been the producer of the world-renowned Howard Stern Radio Show for nearly 30 years. In this interview, the author of the bestselling memoir THEY CALL ME BABA BOOEY talks about some of his favorite audiobooks, why actors make the best narrators, and how listening to books has made his hour-long commute not only bearable but enlightening as well.
Question: What does a great narrator add to an audiobook?
Gary Dell’Abate: They set the scene. It's like going to see a great play for a story you know. Every set of actors gives it their own interpretation and feel.
Q: What types of books do you like to listen to on audio?
GD: I love biographies, mysteries, courtroom dramas, history. Just about anything except self-help books.
Q: What do you do while you listen?
GD: I would say that 99% of my listening is done while driving. I have a 45-minute to one-hour commute each way.
GD: The first book I ever listened to was A. Scott Berg’s biography of Lindbergh read by the actor Eric Stolz. I got sick of looking at the pile of books I wanted to read but couldn’t find time for. I thought, “Well I'll give this a try,” and I loved it. Pretty soon I was finishing two books a month and making my commute a little easier.
Q: If you are listening to any audiobooks now, tell us about it.
GD: I just finished BRUCE, a bio of Springsteen read by Bobby Cannavale of “Boardwalk Empire.” Really well done. Learned a lot --- and I am big fan who thought he knew it all. Before that was an Ahmet Errtugen bio called THE LAST SULTAN. I am listening to Grisham’s THE RACKETEER right now. His books are like comfort food. They never disappoint.
Q: What is your all-time favorite audiobook and why?
GD: It’s a book called THE COLD SIX THOUSAND by James Elroy. It’s read by the actor Craig Wasson. It’s one of the longest books I’ve ever listened to. It starts on the day JFK is assassinated and ends on the day his brother Bobby is killed. It’s fiction but also historically accurate in many parts. Wasson does an amazing job. Just a great book.
Q: Do you have a favorite narrator? Tell us what makes his/her work so enjoyable for you.
GD: I just love the Michael Connelly books. It’s not a Harry Bosch story without Len Cariou reading it. It’s amazing how attached you become to the narrator of a recurring character that you love. Cariou has won Tony Awards and had an amazing career, but if I ever met him, I’d ask him how he does Harry Bosch.
Q: Have you ever narrated your own audiobooks? If so, tell us about your experience.
GD: I had a besteller a few years ago called THEY CALL ME BABA BOOEY. Reading it was nothing short of torture. It took three full days sitting in a phone booth-size studio. My producer, Dan Zitt, was amazing. But at the end of the day, you’re just reading for hours on end. It’s like a filibuster. I felt like James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It’s much more fun to listen!