He had in mind something like Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, but John Landes clearly intends his newly formed show for WPBB, the Water’s Edge Radio Hour, to be for the people, by the people and for the people of the East End. In fact, the program’s already formed and has been up and running since November, though its originators—Landes, along with creative producer-companions Josh Perl and Peter Zablotsky of The Naked Stage, and others—tweak the shows as new talent keeps coming on board.
On Monday, December 9, at 7 p.m. on 88.3 FM and peconicpublicbroadcasting.org, the program will make its on-air debut, and on Saturday, December 14 it will once again be in the making in front of a live audience when guitarists and singer-songwriters Brad Penuel and Telly Karoussos do some “stompin’” and make “lotsa harmonies” at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. Their duo, called Hopefully Forgiven, will no doubt be hopefully remembered because the performance is already sold-out. Wölffer can hold 70 people.
Music is only part of what Landes and his home companions have in mind, however. Like Keillor’s prairie, where grassland area grew more urban and sophisticated over the years, Landes’s program looks to showcase Hamptons-based talent that will reflect Americana and the area’s regional savvy and cool. To that end, Water’s Edge will feature not only Hopefully Forgiven’s acoustic, rhythmic riffs but original theatrical skits with humor and “edge” likely to resonate with East End audiences, the kind of theatrical offerings Perl and Zablotsky have always encouraged by way of inviting local playwrights and actors to create and perform in staged readings. “The talent out here is incredible,” says Perl. “We believe we’ve hit upon a format which enables us to use that talent to develop a radio variety hour which just might become an icon for the
Among the Hamptons-centric ideas Landes, Perl and Zablotsky have been tossing around, lampooning is high on the list. The first taping featured Dan Rattiner’s story about keeping chickens in Sag Harbor Village, which originally ran in Dan’s Papers.
The second taping will feature Rattiner’s “Hamptons Subway Newsletter.” Landes notes a (maybe recurring) skit that features two deer ticks in dialogue who latch onto a guy who’s drunk on tequila, and bedbugs, and, well, it’s all meant to spoof old and new residents on the East End.
The theatrical cast includes Josh Perl, Kathryn Lerner, Rachel Feldman, Molly McKenna, Lucas Beck and J. Kelly Caldwell, with sound engineer George Howard and production engineer David Seiniger. Landes & Co. are also open to other genres—imaginative nonfiction pieces and short stories that reflect the Hamptons, what it’s like to live and create out here, perhaps drawing on submissions to the Dan’s Papers Literary Prize, which in its first two years has confirmed the amount of untapped creative energy in the area.
Landes, a retired lawyer who is chairman of the Board of WPBB, is the owner of Bay Burger, where his daughter and son-in-law’s ice cream (Joe and Liza’s) is as smooth as the Jam Sessions he’s been running on Thursday nights, which air the following Wednesday. He’d been thinking about a radio program such as Water’s Edge for a long time, he says, and when he and Perl and Zablotsky did a successful trial run at Guild Hall this past April, he knew they were all onto something important. He loves the Hamptons—he started the (mostly free) Sag Harbor American Music Festival (Kelly Connaughton, Board President and Co-Artistic Director), which just completed its third season this past September, and whose mission could be said to dovetail with that of Water’s Edge—“encouraging collaboration among professional musicians, businesses, educators, community organizations…and media outlets.” Water’s Edge is such a collaboration—bringing together those who perform at Wölffer with those who produce the broadcasts and, of course, those who make it all possible, the sponsors, not to mention sustaining community audiences.