Public radio fans can get their fix at WIPR, taking to the air above ImprovBoston stage

The on-air talent at “WIPR – Improvised Public Radio” at ImprovBoston on Friday.
The on-air talent at “WIPR – Improvised Public Radio” at ImprovBoston on Friday.

We love our public radio, so attorney and improv comedian Ben Snitkoff chose well in bringing his “WIPR – Improvised Public Radio” to Central Square’s ImprovBoston for the next three Fridays.

The interactive, improvised show applies the setting of a small local public radio station to the classic workplace comedy format, with Snitkoff as director promising “a glimpse into the chaos behind those soothing NPR voices – rocky relationships, malfunctioning equipment and unpredictable guests included.”

As a longtime listener, first-time mock radio show director, Snitkoff has a chance to experiment with what it’s like to add the demands of a live on-air production to the stage in occasional bursts of “broadcast” to WIPR’s imaginary radio listeners. “We use that to punctuate the show at various points and to raise the stakes – when we’re just talking behind the scenes you can’t make any big mistakes, but once you’re going out on the air,” he said, “whatever you say is it.” (To get in the groove, Snitkoff has given the station a dry, National Public Radio-style Twitter feed, complete with playable segment promos and hints of what’s happening in town. “Lakeview High sponsoring Sobriety dance. With raffle for a free Zune!”)

How authentic can the show be? Underlining the need to apply what he’s learned as a listener, Snitkoff said his publicity efforts have already drawn a radio personality to the comedy club. Sharon Brody – “Weekend Edition” host for WBUR – was at his Sunday preview show, he said.

We called Snitkoff with a question or three. The exchange was lightly edited for publication.

Why a show about public radio and not your profession, the law?

Ben SnitkoffI’ve had an idea for a show involving the law, but doing it 9 to 5 kind of makes it the last thing I want to do when I’m looking to do something fun after work. “WIPR” came out of a longtime love for public radio and some conversations with friends who all are also really into it. We thought it would be a fun tribute to our heroes in a way, but also to poke fun at ourselves and workplaces in general through a small local public radio station.

You must listen to a lot of NPR. What do you find funniest about it?

All the characters in the show have great NPR-style names, and we drew inspiration from those weird 30-second stories that you hear on “Morning Edition,” like about the prison debate team that beats the Harvard debate team. But it’s all born out of our love of NPR, and not really any desire to poke fun at it.

What radio personality would you most want to see the show next?

Tom Ashbrook. He’s such a foundation, especially of the Boston public radio scene. I just love his personalty, and I think he would find a lot of joy in what we do.

“WIPR – Improvised Public Radio” is at 10 p.m. Fridays through Feb. 12. Tickets are $18, or $14 for students. ImprovBoston is at 40 Prospect St., Central Square.

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