Remembering NPR's Bill Deputy, A 'Guardian Of Sound'

Mar 23, 2015
Originally published on March 24, 2015 9:43 am

Bill Deputy was All Things Considered's guardian of sound. An engineer and the show's technical director for many years, Deputy died Sunday of lung cancer in New Orleans at the age of 58.

Sound was a serious business for Bill. When he wasn't combining words and sound with music in the All Things Considered control room, he was traveling with us on assignments. We worked together everywhere from Baltimore to Gaza City, and his assignments with my colleagues were equally far-flung.

In 2006, the spring after Hurricane Katrina, he was the recording engineer who captured me with commentator Andrei Codrescu in the midst of a bawdy St. Anne's Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans' French Quarter.

With half-naked revelers jostling Bill, this was no easy task. But somehow he was able to get the music and voices on his recording machine to sound clear — and on the air within hours.

Bill's touch could often be heard on our stories — sometimes in big ways, other times in a small adjustment in volume or timing. So I'm not remembering Bill here simply to acknowledge the passing of one of our friends. Over his two decades here, he was your friend, too — making radio storytelling better in countless small ways.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now, a moment to remember a colleague. Bill Deputy was a sound engineer and an ALL THINGS CONSIDERED technical director for many years. He died yesterday of lung cancer in New Orleans at the age of 58. Sound was a serious business for Bill. When he wasn't sitting in our control room combining words and sound with music, he traveled with us on reporting assignments. In 2006, he was the recording engineer who captured me with commentator Andrei Codrescu in the midst of a bawdy St. Anne's Mardi Gras parade in the French Quarter the spring after Katrina.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ANDREI CODRESCU, BYLINE: Well, so far this is the sorriest excuse for a parade.

SIEGEL: It's so disorganized and late that they haven't come here yet.

CODRESCU: Well, it imitates the chaos of the city. So they are laggardly, and here they come.

(TRUMPET MUSIC)

SIEGEL: This was no easy task. Half-naked revelers jostled Bill. But somehow he was able to get voices and the music on his recording machine sounding clear and on the air within hours that day. We worked together everywhere from Baltimore to Gaza City, and his assignments with my colleagues were equally far-flung. His touch could often be heard in our stories, sometimes in big ways, other times in a small adjustment of volume or timing. So I'm not saying these words simply to acknowledge the passing of one of our friends. He was your friend too, making radio storytelling better over his two decades here. Bill had talents beyond radio - photography and music. Here he is playing the Dobro with friends in 2009.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOBRO MUSIC)

SIEGEL: Bill Deputy, our guardian of sound and friend, died yesterday in New Orleans at age 58. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.