BEHIND THE SCENES with Ken Nordine

What was, and continues to be, your inspiration for Word Jazz

Thinking thoughts and then rethinking them, and then writing them down to see how they look in print, then lifting what's on the page off the page by saying the printed thoughts out loud, hearing how they sound intoned, or half sung, or just skipping along the way Shaky wanted his actors to speak the lines. Or was that "trippingly off the tongue?" Then there's the jazz: head music goes well with think-a-thought, that's why I prefer "jazz" with my "words." And then comes the real fun: the doing of it for real. This involves going upstairs in the old house we live in where I have a multitrack dream of a studio to record with the best players I know whatever has become of the rough draft of a draft I am working on . . . in my attic studio is where what I call "word jazz" becomes the finished digital recording

Your work takes listeners into your stream of thought, as if we're eavesdropping on your dreams . . . is that where you want us to be

Yup. Radio is the quickest and easiest way to get inside someone's head because each listener has the involvement of his or her imagination, choreographing the images somewhere in the amazing upper limbo of the limbic system (the paleopallium brain, including the hippocampus and the amygdala.) I'll never forget Amy G Dala . . . what a sweet heart she had

It was 40 years ago that you produced the album Colors. What do you remember about the experience

What's funny and incredible looking back to 1967 is that Colors was written and recorded on old fashioned vinyl in just two afternoons in Chicago's then famous Studio B of long gone Universal Recording. The stars were in promising juxtaposition, everything was right and easy. The luck of the draw. We didn't know what we were doing

You say your voice is god-given but what advice do you have for reporters/producers about how to make the most of their voices/delivery

Learn how to lift words off the page, learn to sound like you're not reading, that you are just saying what you have to say . . . with easy intelligence and with the emotional feeling you have in your heart. Learn how to elide (glide over words, sometimes making two words into one.) We do this all the time when we talk to each other. You're gonna like what you are going to hear. ("gonna" is the elision of "going to") Eliding is how you create the musical rhythm of the spoken word

People may not know that your radio roots go back to the golden age of radio in the '40s, and WBEZ (now Chicago Public Radio) when it was owned by the Chicago Board of Education. Does that experience continue to influence you in any way

My very first job in radio. I loved being at WBEZ when it was on the tenth floor of the building that was on the corner of LaSalle and Wacker. I was paid $15.00 a month and my job was running the mimeograph machine and working as an actor with young greats like Sondra Gair and Jerry Kauffeur, Russ Reed. Those were the days my friends, we thought they'd never end. A wonderful beginning it was.