A Day in the Life of Larry Perel

I have an excited, yet nervous, feeling in my gut when I take the elevator up to the top floor of the Antioch building. I have been in the studio of KCRW before, but this feels more intimate. I become more aware of my surroundings, and I take the time to just look around me when I’m standing outside the door. Maybe because the mundane suddenly seems more beautiful, maybe because I’m scared of knocking on the door to begin my photo-journey. Maybe both.
I take my time before I knock. I stand by the door, thinking about how this little radio studio is so hidden, which makes this feel as an adventure. It is easy to miss, and the little sticker in the top left corner on the A unit is the only telltale sign that shows me that I’m at the right place.
After being a TV-producer for 20 years, Larry Perel wanted to do something different: “I just needed a change, do something different, and I always had a passion for radio”.
The KCRW headquarters are located in Santa Monica, so the Santa Barbara branch is quite small. Located in a remodeled apartment, the recording studio is nothing more than a small bedroom that has been decorated with muting foam on the walls. It’s non-threatening, yet a little daunting to be in there. Especially when I sit there with someone who has been doing radio for ten years.
I feel as I’m watching history in the making when we find out that Ted Cruz officially has backed out of the race for becoming the nominee for the republican party. The realization that Donald Trump could become the President of the US is suddenly way too real.
I get a crash course in how the radio broadcast works, and I listen intently when Larry tell me about the “clocks”. They tell you what minute and second of the hour you go on, and what you are to talk about. “You kinda just cruise through it, you know”, Larry says in a casual manner, while I stare fascinated a the round timetable that has a different look depending on what program is being broadcasted by NPR at the time.
I try to follow along when Larry whips through his papers, writes little notes, adds onto his copy to read in the next time slot. He is focused, and he is effective.
When I asked Larry about the craziest thing he ever had to report in the news he tells me that it was the mass shooting in Isla Vista in 2014. “I got a text from my daughter, saying that people had been killed.” I try to put myself in his shoes, and I ponder if I would have been able to stay calm enough to report about it live. I don’t think I would.
Larry Perel, 52, has been with KCRW on and off for six years. He moved up to Santa Barbara to be the afternoon news host, and he enjoys what he does. It is hard not to be in awe when I sit behind him and see how he can calculate how many words he can fit in 30 seconds, and it’s even more awe-inducing when he fits them right to the second.
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