Joe Frank's America

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Joe Frank's America[1]
In The Dark
Original Broadcast Date
Farley Ziegler, Many Joe Franks
Serious Monologue, Telephone, Real People, Absurd Lists, Sound Effects, Singing, 26 minutes
Preceded by: A Natural Disaster
Followed by: That Night

"My name is Joe Frank, and I live in Burlington Vermont."

Joe Frank's America is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series In The Dark. It was originally broadcast in 1994.


Joe calls other Joes Franks around the country.

0:20: The one in Burlington, VT, the lawyer with 2 daughters in college.

1:10: The one in Birmingham, Alabama, the supermarket buyer with a wife and child.

1:40: The one in Rochester, New York who drives a milk truck. His wife bore their younger child while she was in Rome singing for the Pope.

2:40: The one in Chicago, a new attorney. At the bar exam he sat next to another Joe Frank.

3:30: The one retired in his seventies, worked on airplane engines.

3:50: Wife tells about her Joe Frank, 83 and infirm, can't come to the phone. Wife says they've been married over 50 years, both worked in dry-cleaning, have a daughter who's a college professor.

6:30: Joe says his heart's not into calling other Joe Franks, he wants to quit and leave town, but remembers the diplomat he knew whose country was absorbed, how he couldn't adjust to this loss of identity. Joe fears the same may happen to him.

10:40: The one in New Orleans, works at a hotel.

11:00: The one in Boulder, Colorado: married, a software engineer, treats life as a hobby.

12:20: The one in Rockaway Park, Queens, New York City: born August 1914, worked at a bank for 46 years, widower, gambler, knows another Joe Frank in Rockaway.

14:10: The one in South Euclid, Ohio: 58, retired school counselor, 4 children.

15:50: The one in Cleveland, 32, married, staying home with the baby.

16:30: Joe tells of being on a beach, finding a young woman attractive. After a while, she walks in his direction. He sees it's a man, flees, shaken, back to his cottage. A man pulls up, wants to know the way to the Indian burial grounds, asks Joe if he isn't the piano player at the Pelican Inn.[1]

19:00: Joe tells of singing in the Pelican lounge, goes through his pockets, finds: 'a hotel key, a harmonica, a pine cone, a field guide for identifying shrubbery, an expanding cuff for a blood pressure meter, a tranquilizing suppository, brown rice, an egg containing a religious diorama of Calvary, a canister of mace, a wind sock.'

20:30: Someone[2] declaims, loudly, the pride he takes in the name Joe Frank - then gives up.

22:30: The one in Miami: 30, construction worker.

22:40: The one in Baltimore, son is Joe Frank the third, a business executive selling medical publishing books.

23:10: The one in New York State, 50, works for the New York Department of Corrections

23:20: The one retired from Kodak: two boys, 9 siblings.

23:40: Farley Ziegler calls a woman, has a short conversation with her. Her husband, Joe Frank, is dead; he was in the labor movement, served in WW2, raised 5 children, lived in Cleveland, had cancer of the sciatic nerve.

Legacy Synopsis

Joe calls a long list of men named Joe Frank. Joe talks about having no interest in the show, contemplates leaving radio, and talks about a direction-less man who had been a diplomat for a nation which no longer exists. Joe is on the beach and fantasizes over a man he mistakes for a woman, then he meets a stranger looking for Indian burial grounds. Joe talks about his name against a background of children singing "Me and My Shadow." [Yeah, I know it's not really a call in show; but creating a new category for a call out show seemed excessive.]


Additional credits

The original broadcast credits state: "[C]reated in collaboration with Arthur Miller and David Rapkin. The story editor was Farley Ziegler. Audio editing by Jerry Summers and Theo Mondle. Recorded and mixed by Theo Mondle. Special thanks to Jennifer Ferro."


  1. Joe re-uses this story in Mercy.
  2. It doesn't sound like Joe to me