Monday, January 4, 2010


Years ago, when I was living in Missoula, MT, and attending graduate school at the U of MT, my brother Mac and I fell into a ritual behavior that persists to this day. Each late afternoon, before scrounging for some sort of dinner, we would settle down into the long, cold shadows of Winter or the long northern twilights of Summer, to take a gentle snooze before continuing our bachelorhood pursuits of rambling in the mountains and streams (and bars) of the playground that is Western Montana. Our constant companion at this twilight time of day was the radio voice of Sanford J. Ungar. I may be mistaken, but I believe he was the first voice of the then fledgling National Public Radio (NPR). Sandy, as I have come to know him now, gave us the love of the voice, the gravitas and shades of meaning that continue as the hallmark of this wonderful radio property, through which the theatre of the mind is best conveyed, for me, while gently listening in the waning light, hearing the world's progress, and finding ways to connect our experiences to the voice in the radio. There is something in that vocal quality for me that imprints, remarks, and conveys emotion in the empathy of one human listening to another. So much is conveyed without words. So little is missed by the quality of voice and the tenor of emotion. Last evening, as I listened to the radio rather than the drone of another vacuous football game, I chose to listen to NPR, and allowed myself a trip back to Missoula, and enabled my mind to go aural. The warm thread of Sandy's voice echoed in my mind and gave me the pleasant experience once again, even as I listened to Scott Simon. Continuity is a warm blanket, a voice of the human, a trigger to the value of long-remembered experience. I am grateful for that.
As it turns out, I have had the marvelous experience of listening to Sandy in person many times, as he became the President of Goucher College. In fact, I was on the selection committee for the College when he was appointed, and I have never been so gratified as on that day.

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