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Frank Slaughter on 37 years of 'Repose' and asking Maurine to turn on the side light

Since 1987, Frank Slaughter has asked his wife Maurine to "turn on the side light" at the end of every episode of "Repose."

When Frank Slaughter is introduced to "Repose" fans, they usually have just one question.

"They always ask, 'Where's Maurine?'" he says, laughing. "They're always interested in seeing who Maurine is."

Listeners to "Repose" know that Slaughter always signs off the program with the same message to his wife: "Maurine, if you're listening, turn on the side light. I'm on my way."

He's been using that signoff phrase for more than three decades - ever since "Repose" began in 1987.

Slaughter talked with Classical IPR recently about the history of "Repose."

Listen to the conversation on demand in this post or wherever you get your podcasts.

Portions of the interview are transcribed below and have been edited for length and clarity.

Note: "Repose" originally aired only on Saturday nights. In 2018, Classical IPR began broadcasting it every night of the week at 10 p.m.

On the original idea for "Repose"

In 1987, I was live in the studio on Saturday afternoons - I had the opera shift, and then I stayed. That was when Interlochen Arts Academy had classes on Saturday. Maurine [Slaughter, his wife, who taught at the Academy] would come over and we'd have pizza, and then she would go home and I would stay and do "Repose."

Ed Catton [IPR's longtime music director who retired in 1997] gave everybody a little poke to see if people would come up with their own shows, and that's how it got started.

Back then, I was doing it from 11 to midnight, so he probably figured it would not be a big deal at that time of night [if it didn't go well].

On the music featured on "Repose"

At first, it was a lot of music like Philip Glass and the Paul Winter Consort, plus musicians who were in the Paul Winter Consort like [cellist] Eugene Friesen.

There wasn't much of a catalog of that kind of music at the time. George Winston was really one of the first, and I really liked his album and thought it would be great.

Yanni is the one who made that bridge into more orchestral sounds, and his music helped me pick a new direction for "Repose." I started including more and more of that type of music, and I really just stayed with it.

Two people are sitting at microphones in a radio studio. They are talking and laughing.
Frank Slaughter talks with Amanda Sewell in IPR's Studio B

On his signoff to Maurine

In 1968, I used to hang out at a radio station downstate in Troy - it was just a little house out in the middle of nowhere. I don't think where were a lot of listeners.

But the guy who was on the air would say something similar to his mother, like, "Mom, if you're listening, it's been a long day and the kid's coming home."

Over the years, I've been at parties and people would say, "Oh, you're the 'Repose' guy! Where's Maurine?"

On Danny Wright version of "Softly as I Leave You," used as the theme

I love that song. I first heard it when Frank Sinatra recorded it.

It's perfect - it has the right title, you know?

"Repose" airs every night at 10 p.m. on Classical IPR.

Although episodes are not available on demand, Classical IPR has created an on-demand playlist featuring music by artists heard on "Repose." Listen here.

Dr. Amanda Sewell is IPR's music director.