Fans of literary radio broadcasts across America recognized the voice of Isaiah Sheffer, the founding artistic director of Symphony Space in New York. Sheffer hosted its program, "Selected Shorts," which broadcast on 130 public radio stations nationwide, reaching hundreds of thousands of listeners each week. On its website Friday, Symphony Space announced that Sheffer, 76, has died.
"Selected Shorts" began in 1985 as a stage performance. In the show, actors read short fiction; it's a great combination. Actors bring a degree of showmanship to the stories they read, but it is the stories and words that they focus on showing off.
That focus on the words made for great radio -- the live performances are taped and broadcast as selected shorts. Now, they are also available as podcasts.
"The first thing I usually hear from the actors, which makes it much easier for me to recruit other actors, is the receptiveness of the audience," Sheffer told The Times in 2001. He worked with each of the actors briefly before their performances. "Once we get someone, we usually don't have much trouble getting them again."