Free Associating with Ken Nordine

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Ken Nordine shares about his beginnings in radio and the creation of his original radio series “Word Jazz” - a series of records and radio programs begun in the 1950s and ‘60s. With poetic stories and whimsical musings to the sound of cool jazz backgrounds, Nordine expresses his love of the language and the weaving of ideas and music. Possessed of a resonant, classic radio announcer voice, his sounds became mental excursions into timeless sketches and talking songs that “became instant collectors’ items due to lack of distribution” when they were first released. Staying true to his vision led to some obscurity but his stunning voice became known in radio commercials and narrations – familiar, though usually anonymous. Nordine shares that Word Jazz can change the listener’s entire perspective of the world: “Is that a boulder or a grain of sand? It’s all in the point of view, the flip of a word, the timing of a phrase.” He knows the ways of the word! He has some cogent opinions on the media and its effects on our lives before the internet came to be the main outlet. (hosted by Phil Catalfo) 


Ken Nordine (1920-2019) was a legendary voice-over artist, narrator and disc jockey. Ken Nordine achieved his greatest popularity in the 1950s at the peak of the beatnik jazz and poetry movement. Ken lent his supremely dulcet tones to numerous film trailers and TV commercials and continued to host his own weekly radio show and perform live in concert. 

His albums of hip and creative free-form spoken-word vignettes include: 

To learn more about Ken Nordine go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What does Nordine describe as the “envelope for your being”
  • What does he mean by “disassociation”
  • His thoughts about Moondog, poet and musician, as a phenomenon of New York
  • What are the subtle and obvious effects of media on our lives 

Host: Phil Catalfo          Interview Date: 5/5/1982       Program Number: 1696