The Phone Book was inspired by the highest compliment one actor can pay another

 she could read the phone book and make it sound great

 The idea is simple:  record the best actors in the English-speaking world reading from phone books and from all kinds of lists, instruction manuals and codes of behavior —  Royal Etiquette: How To Behave When Presented to the Queen · recipes from old cookbooks · drug side effects · processed food ingredients · The Motion Picture (Hays) Code (1930) — performed as the text inspires each actor.  All are read for a laugh, whether the original text was or not funny.

Alec Baldwin, F. Murray Abraham, John Lithgow, Renée Fleming, Garrison Keillor, Dick Cavett, Barbara Rosenblat, a top voice actorand others have read for the project.  Paul Dooley, Anne Enright, Bob Odenkirk, Philip Roth, Wallace Shawn, Jerry Stiller, Kate Valk and many other members of our radio rep company have read for us on past projects.  Many of them will also read for The Phone Book.  We will invite actors of diverse talents and backgrounds to record for the project including Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Nathan Lane, John Leguizamo, Bobby McFerrin, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart.

Four-minute segments will be heard on NPR stations. Segments will also be heard on a hosted podcast. “Best of” collections will be offered to the BBC, CBC and ABC (Australia). The recordings will be streamed from our website, thephonebook.info  free of charge to the public.

 The Phone Book was created by Executive Producer Larry Josephson, who’s created award-winning public radio series for 55 years.  He started The Radio Foundation, a non-profit tax-exempt radio production company, in 1977. Larry won the prestigious Peabody Award, and three Grammy® nominations for producing Bob & Ray.

Larry’s many projects[1] include:

The Complete Ulysses, a recording of every word of James Joyce’s masterpiece; Only in America: The Story of American Jews, an eight-hour documentary heard on 225 NPR stations; two national talk shows,  BRIDGES: A Liberal/Conservative Dialogue; and Modern Times, about life, death and everything in between. Larry started his radio career at WBAI-FM (New York) with In the Beginning, a free-form iconoclastic, daily live morning-drive show, where he broke all the radio rules.

Larry has spent 35 years producing Bob & Ray, the classic American humorists, including three NPR series, 100 CDs1,850 routines on iTunes and flash drives, and two sold-out concerts in Carnegie Hall. (Peabody award and three Grammy nominations).

The Phone Book Credits

Larry Josephson, Executive Producer and Director ·  Zoë Saunders, Producer  ·  Nellie Gilles, Founding Producer  ·  Robert Auld, Recording and Mastering Engineer  ·  Deborah Stathopulos, Executive Assistant.

[1] Funded in part by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The National Endowment for the Arts, The New York State Council on the Arts, Edwin A. Goodman, Charlton and Susan Buckley, Larry & Billie Tisch, The Kaplen Foundation, other private foundations and individuals–and Zabar’s.


  1. this is a fabulous idea–wish I’d thought of it myself

    July 24, 2014
  2. Peter said:

    I would think that one qualification would be to hire people who think they can sing well in the shower.

    November 19, 2014
  3. Henry Joseph said:

    Larry Josephson … WBAI, 1969, 1970, 1971…my coping mechanism on the drive to work. Terrible colleagues at a difficult job. (for example) Passover, 1970…Teacher’s lunch room in an East Flatbush public elementary school. I unwrap my tasty ham, swiss cheese, deli mustard sandwich…remove the cap of a soft drink and am met with stares of death. Apparently, unknowingly, I’d sat adjacent a clique of teachers Orthodox. What are you doing, eating and in my 21 year old sense of things I responded as I would today. With disdain, simply remarked…”ham and cheese…” Response…”that bread?” Yeah, “white bread.” I though who would eat ham and cheese on matzah? Till I left the place it was the dawg house for me. Every day. The next day. The day after…Larry Josephson was the ray of illuminating sunshine.

    October 7, 2015

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *