Net Nuggets 2: Ken Nordine

Ken Nordine: «Wow of Now» [mp3]
Without Ken Nordine, Hollywood film trailers wouldn't be what they are. (Thanks a lot, Ken!) His soothing baritone and enunciation were discovered by radio marketing and PR douche bags in the 1950s and used in various inane commercials of the era.

But Ken proved indomitable, as he started using his deceptively calming recitation skills to explore sometimes intellectually (or cognitively) unsettling notions from the limits of thought, employing his whimsical sense of humour to sugar the pill. He recorded some great albums where his semi-improvised tales were backed by jazz musicians. Later on he had his own radio show in which he refined his technique of «Word Jazz»—a kind of mix between jazz improv and word association.

And now, in the age of iTunes, Nordine has started editing down his Word Jazz performances into condensed Podcasts, to tickle your intellect and confuse your assumptions.

One such Podcast is Nordine's exploration of the age-old philosophical question, What is this present moment, the now? Suddenly, as you're drifting off to the sound of abstract thought, a typically wry'n'dry Nordine-ism grounds you, reminding you who you're listening to:

«Now is perpendicular to eternity… Sorry, I didn't mean to be so blunt.»

For more, go to Mr. Nordine's website.


  1. Thanks for this post. I didn't know Ken Nordine had a podcast, but I'm a subscriber now!

    I started listening to Ken Nordine just a little before I started doing college radio in the early 80's. Very inspirational. Then in the late 80's when I was working for Apple, I wanted to produce an experimental multimedia presentation showing off Apple technology. I got up the nerve to phone Ken and ask him if I could use one of his pieces in the project. Let me tell you, you haven't lived until you dial a phone and hear "Hello" on the other end in Ken's voice. It's like calling up the voice of god.

    Ken was kind enough to say yes and sent me a bunch of tapes. I devoured them all and called him back proposing to use one of 3 pieces. They were all so good I couldn't decide. I told him one of the pieces I was thinking of using was "My Baby." He then said in a very matter-of-fact way, "Ah yes, Fred Astaire danced to My Baby in 1957." Oh, ok. I'm thinking of using material connected to TWO of my heros, one of whom is on the other end of the phone... CHOKE.

    I ended up using a piece of his called Think A Thought. It worked great.

  2. Ha ha! Love the story about the phone call. Hearing that «Hello» would surely have jettisoned my mind out of my body...

    If you ever feel like sending someone copies of those tapes, feel free to think of Toilet Guppies!