Talk Radio

Talk Radio by Ham Martin

In a small town in Maine, Vivien Kindler applies for and gets a job hosting a radio talk show, a position left vacant when the former host, Fred Boyland, suffered a debilitating stroke. After Vivian and her husband moved to this new town for his job, he walked out on her, leaving her alone in a place where she knew no one, but as people call in she begins to connect and learn about the town and its residents. There are regular callers - Brownie, the poet; JJ's Mom (JJ is a dog); George, the Welder; Paul, the piano tuner; a local teacher; and random callers who choose not to leave their names. The poet calls to share his latest efforts, another reads his original short stories, some comment on local happenings or express their opinions on whatever topic Vivien has introduced for the day, and some call simply to have someone to talk to.  

Fred Boyland becomes an unwelcome caller, criticizing the different direction Vivien is taking the show and stirring up his supporters by telling them she stole his job. Harrassing calls increase and then she learns that Fred is organizing a protest to be held outside the radio station, just below her window where she will see and hear it all. Rattled by some of the more aggressive calls, she grows nervous as the day of the protest approaches.   

The story is told largely through the dialogue of the calls, with a few short chapters adding a little about what's going on outside of the studio. That makes it fairly quick to read, but still a story with impact. There was a moment in the middle of it where I hoped something would happen soon, and then it did so that was only a momentary lull. 

The dialogue is good, witty, with different styles for different characters that remained consistent. The characters are endearing - you even feel sorry for Fred by the end - and the overall tone encouraging. I wish there was a sequel; I'd like to read more about these folks and their town. 

An appealing story told in a different way; a nice read.


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