The following excerpt from Don DeLillo was extracted from POETS AND WRITERS magazine.
Diane Osen: How is it that you became a writer?
Don DeLillo: It's a bit of a mystery, because I didn't write at all as a child, and I did not do much reading, either. I liked to play. The minute I got out of school I started playing street games, card games, alley games, rooftop games, fire escape games, punch ball, stickball, handball, stoop ball, and a hundred other games. I read comic books and I listened to the radio. No one read to anyone else at home. That's why we had the radio; the radio read to us all.
If you are of a certain age, then that is certainly true. It was omnipresent, every member of the family listened to something it offered. I learned a lot from radio. I learned what funny was by tuning in Jack Benny, Fred Allen and The Edgar Bergen program. I learned that crime doesn't pay by listening to Gangbusters, Mr. District Attorney and others. I began a love affair with baseball and the Cleveland Indians that has become a lifelong addiction. The Indians had a couple good teams in the late forties and early fifties. It took me to professional boxing when Joe Louis was the champion. I remember listening to Don Dunfey broadcast the fights from ringside. He was good, I felt like I was there. I even received a little spirituality at a young age listening to The Greatest Story Ever Told. What was so good about the radio in those days? It was the necessity to use your imagination. If you listened long enough,and hard enough, you would be drawn in and it made an impression that would remain with you forever. I remember those shows and those sounds like it was just yesterday. It was a strong medium that had a short shelf life, because television was standing in the wings ready to take over our complete attention. Television was something else as the phrasemakers once said. But I think it never has reached it full potential. Out of the hundreds of offerings, I find it hard to find something I want to watch, That,s a shame. The PC and the internet has taken away much of the TV audience, and will continue to do so I believe. But radio and the contribution of our imaginations remains with me. Imagine a ventriliquist talking through a wooden dummy, and not even a good ventriliquist, he moved his lips, having one of the most popular shows on radio. The radio audience knew all of that, but through imagination accepted Charlie McCarthy as a real person and loved doing it.