I began working in KPFA's Drama and Literature Department in 1975, soon after moving to Berkeley, when I walked into Erik's office above Edy's Diner and volunteered to help him with sound effects for radio plays. The idea of recording the dialog in radio drama the way it's done on film sets intrigued me too, and Erik was open to experimenting. Actually he had been thinking along similar lines. A play called "Object Piece" or "Objay Dart" by Drury Pifer is one of our favorites. It's about an old school painter who is half heartedly trying to turn himself into a conceptual artist. He's received a grant to make an audio recording of himself digging a hole, which turns out to be a grave. The whole play happens in the Mojave desert, but we couldn't afford to go there to do it. Lucky for us, Northern California was undergoing a pretty severe drought at the time, and the mostly dried up, barren Nicasio Reservoir in Marin County was a good acoustic stand-in for the Mojave. Erik knew the place well because of his frequent drives from Berkeley to Point Reyes. Little did we know that George Lucas would decide to build a huge film facility nearby ten years later. Erik plays the lead character in "Object Piece." It's a stunning performance. I've been on film sets with some of the best actors in the world, and none of them could have done better.
Since I walked through that door on Shattuck Ave. thirty five years ago Erik has been an enormous influence on me philosophically, artistically, and personally. Whatever success I've had is because of the directions he sent me in.
Randy Thom, Director of Sound Design, Skywalker Sound
My dear friend Erik,
Congratulations for receiving this honorable prize and enjoy it.
You have dedicated your life in your noble and modest manner as artistic director, author, producer and legendary speaker in radio and film productions to the high-qualified publication of poetry and radio drama in the field of the American public radio. During many decades you have been responsible as chief editor in radio stations mostly at KPFA in producing and supporting with great success the most enlightening radio programs which have been an initial and influential part of the cultural scenery and the development of an advanced international audio art.
Your enduring and unpretentious enthusiasm up until today has inspired the creativity of many artists worldwide to trust in the rich potential of art in radio as a medium of high imagination and experience.
As head of an experimental radio studio in Cologne I appreciated for many years having had the chance to be in a very fruitful exchange with your artistic activities and to build up with you a transcontinental Sound Bridge between the US and Europe.
My dear Erik – in your wise age – you are one of the most outstanding and courageous personalities in the history of American radio art since Orson Welles.
Thank you so much for your precious and tender friendship.
Klaus with Fanny and Nadja.
My dear friend Erik Bauersfeld is an intellectual's intellectual, one of the great remaining carriers of high culture."
My heartfelt congratulations to Erik!
Finnish Broadcasting Company's Radio Atelier is getting now in November 30 years. As a head of Atelier I've been knowing Erik for 15 years. Erik's been like a Renaissance Prince sharing his radio wisdom. I'm very thankful for that.
Harri Huhtamäki, Radio Atelier, Finnish Broadcasting
"Radio has its razzmatazz, it has its showy and insistent voices - in the
art of radio as much as in its shock jocks and Wolfmen - but Erik Bauersfeld is that rare thing: a quiet American voice that raises the game for everyone, easily crossing international borders by expressing the contained locales of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the epic sweep of Eugene O'Neill. Able to send chills down your back in classic radio style, Erik has produced and sponsored audio art that happily rubs shoulders with the best radio that we could offer at the BBC. On top of the wonderful truthfulness of his work, which helps keep us all honest, I only regret the distance that separates us from the splendid stimulation of his company - from this side of the Atlantic, I can't see a more deserving recipient of the award."
Ned Chaillet, BBC Radio Drama Editor and Producer, retired.
Mazel tov! I'm delighted to hear that "The Phantom" [Bauersfeld] is getting some recognition at last. I've never known anyone who deserves more and who's gotten less. As an artist, he towers above the rest of us audio dramatists like the Sears Tower over a row of wieners. He awes me with his skill, his fecund imagination, his unerring taste, his erudition, his wit, his eloquence, and especially his amazing capacity to consume and hold prodigious quantities of liquor.
Yuri Rasovsky, The Hollywood Theater of the Ear
Back in the early 60s, Eric did a show on KPFA called “The Black Mass.” They were adaptations of writers like de Maupassant and H.P. Lovecraft. When I heard it, I was stunned. It was not only his fine adaptations, but also his incredible voice. I recall, “Diary of a Mad Man,” and “Rats in the Wall.” Now that one is embedded in my brain, I can call forth Eric’s voice as he follows the sound of the rats down and down into the black abyss.
Needless to say, Eric left a lasting impression. It’s because of Eric I started writing and producing radio dramas. He became my Mentor. Of course there’s so much more than just his scaring the heck out of me - the Eugene O’Neil plays he produced are beautiful works of art. He is a master of his craft.
I fondly recall the times we sat and talked and talked. His knowledge is so vast. I remember one day at his home in Berkeley, he had the biggest French press in the world, I swear it held at least 3 liters of coffee. It had a plunger that reminded me of what they use to blast away hilltops. We talked for hours, or maybe it was days.
Eric is a rare individual. He is a true gentleman. Two words come to mind, “Eloquent” and “Elegant.” He is still my Mentor.
Working with you, Erik, continues to be a pleasure and inspiration. From bringing the beating of wings of pigeons into a live recording on San Francisco's Polk Street by feeding them pork buns, assisting with the Sound Design conference at Lucas Film and auditions or rehearsals for EarPlay, to the recent collaboration on the Ferlinghetti Series Open Eye, Open Mind. I got to know and love you as wise, uncompromising in your artistic integrity, curious and open to new ways of recording, supportive of the talents of writers, artists and sound designers around you, funny, and patient - and an amazing performer and reader as well.
I thank you!
Your associate producer, roadie, and animal trainer -
Maria Gilardin, TUC Radio
On a good day, if we are lucky when we come to the studio to mix, Erik Bauersfeld is just coming out of the session before us, all lit up. The conversation always startles me and makes me look into our own work with new ears. He's so very smart and original and outrageous, peering deep into the drama of what it means to be human. He makes me want to never stop making radio and telling stories.
Davia Nelson, The Kitchen Sisters
I was stopped in my tracks the first time I heard Erik's voice, back in 1987. I had been editing The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Berkeley, and my assistant clicked on KPFA during a coffee break. We were fighting a deadline with no time to spare, but instantly mesmerized by a voice, and by the mysterious story the voice’s owner had chosen to read, I instead sat down and was spell-bound for forty-five minutes listening to the rest of Erik's reading of Patrick Suskind's Perfume.
I was of course a late-comer to Erik’s caravan – he already had a long trail of admirers from his decades at KPFA; and you will have already heard from others about his subsequent victories in radio drama. Fortunately for me, I also met the man himself – he became my wife Aggie’s mentor twenty years ago when she plunged into the world of community radio – and was delighted to discover that Erik’s wonderful voice was more than matched by a generosity of spirit, wit, and friendship which we are overjoyed to be celebrating tonight.