Joe Franklin, the man credited with creating the television talk show, has hosted over 28,000 episodes of The Joe Franklin Show and has interviewed over 150,000 guests, some famous and some . . . not. From his Times Square office filled with chaos and clutter, he fields about 1,000 calls a day from hopefuls hoping to land a spot on his show. “Of course, most of them can’t be on, but I hate to hurt their feelings so I never say ‘good-bye.’ I just hang up. So that way they feel the conversation hangs in limbo until we chat again.”

Over the years, Sound Portraits producers have met some pretty impressive characters. Unbelievable characters. But the greatest of them all is Joe Franklin. Just give a call to his office (the number’s listed) and you’ll see: “Hello? Who’s this?” he’ll ask. “[Fill in your name], my friend!” he’ll exclaim, as if he’s known you all his life. “Listen to me closely now. Whatever you want, it’s automatic. Listen, [Fill in your name] — I’m very busy. Very busy. Call me back at three o’clock exactly. You swear? Don’t forget now — very important. Critical! God bless you.” SLAM.

Recorded in New York City. Premiered September 8, 1991, on All Things Considered.

This documentary comes from Sound Portraits Productions, a mission-driven independent production company that was created by Dave Isay in 1994. Sound Portraits was the predecessor to StoryCorps and was dedicated to telling stories that brought neglected American voices to a national audience.