In 1971 NPR began broadcasting a wide range of programming to radio listeners. Their mandate was to "produce and distribute news, cultural and information programming for radio in a noncommercial format." Their audience exceeds 17 million listeners, at 550 member stations, where programming includes a wide spectrum for "thinking people."
THE BEST OF NPR: A Life In The Arts includes interviews with nine accomplished artists: Dame Margot Fonteyn, Don Walser, Lynn Redgrave, Bruce Feiler, Ry Cooder, Jeremy Brett, Ethel Merman, Dame Janet Baker, and Leon Fleisher. Even though these are merely 10 minute interview segments, they are insightful and revealing. This is a very diverse group of actors, performers, and creative talents. It is certainly interesting to listen to the delicate voice of the quintessential prima ballerina, Dame Margot Fonteyn, juxtaposed with the voice of Texas yodeler Don Walser. No matter where you place the Ethel Merman piece in this list, you will have a unique and diverse set of interviews!
Many items of information were shared with the general public, for the first time, through these interviews, often at the end of the performer's career. Taped throughout the past 30 years of NPR'S history, several of these interviews actually occurred near the end of the performer's life. Examples: Bruce Feiler's insights on circus life and his attempts to "join the circus" made him believe that circus performers are bred, not hired. Jeremy Brett shared his thoughts on the character of Sherlock Holmes that he played for so long on PBS; Brett's wife was the creator of the highly successful series, "Mystery." A particularly touching interview with Leon Fleisher delves into his disability and how he restructured his life to adjust his musical career to incorporate the loss of feeling in his right arm.
All in all, this is a very unique Audiobook. If you seek entertainment coupled with the insightful, intelligent presentation of information of a cultural nature, THE BEST OF NPR: A Life In The Arts is a winner! As always, enjoy!
Reviewed by Marge Fletcher on March 1, 1998
The Best of NPR: A Life in the Arts