The news is out that Isaiah Sheffer, creator and host of Selected Shorts, has died from complications of a stroke. He died Friday, at age 76. It was his leadership that created New York’s Symphony Space by turning a neglected old movie theater into a signature arts venue, and his vision that created the public performance series and radio program that celebrates the short story form. Selected Shorts has been in existence for 32 years and airs on a great many public radio stations around the country. You hear it on NCPR every Sunday at 1pm.
Symphony Space shared this obituary over the weekend:
It is with both heavy hearts and a deep sense of gratitude that the staff, board, and community of artists of Symphony Space honor the life of our Founding Artistic Director, Isaiah Sheffer, who, along with his good friend and co-founder Allan Miller, transformed a crumbling building on the corner of 95th Street and Broadway into the vibrant and vital arts institution known today as Symphony Space. Isaiah’s voice is recognized by millions in his role as host of Selected Shorts on Public Radio International, a show that he created as both a live stage performance and radio program, co-produced with WNYC Radio and carried on over 150 stations around the country. Isaiah’s warmth, quick wit, and passion for the arts were an inherent part of what made him so special. For those of us lucky enough to have worked with Isaiah, and to have been part of a greater family under the roof that Isaiah helped to build, we are so proud to be a part of this vision made possible by an extraordinary and charismatic man who will be missed every day, and whose spirit makes our future bright.
In the past few months, Isaiah Sheffer had been experimenting with “semi-retirement” and bringing new voices forward to try out the host role. Selected Shorts will continue, and efforts are in the works to find a new host. Selected Shorts is now planning a special program celebrating Isaiah’s life and work.