The cohesive force in the Soundings radio program was Wayne J. Pond, director of public programs at the National Humanities Center from 1979 to 1997. Born in Chicago, Pond grew up in Albuquerque and served as a missionary in Uruguay and Argentina between 1961 and 1964. He was educated at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned a Ph.D. in American literature. As a college and graduate student, Pond moon-lighted by working in commercial radio, which prepared him for his multiple roles with Soundings. As the program’s sole producer and interviewer, he created a state-of-the-art recording studio in a small study at the National Humanities Center, where he also promoted and found sponsorship for the program with the aid of a small staff.
Following Soundings, Pond became associate director of the University of North Carolina Program in the Humanities and Human Values, from which he retired as director in 2008. The Humanities Program is the principal means of public outreach of the College of Arts and Sciences and the sponsor of the popular Adventure in Ideas weekend, summer, and executive seminars.
His publications include “Lisa Alther: Healing Laughter,” in Appalachia and Beyond: Conversations with Writers from the Mountain South, University of Tennessee Press, 2006; entries on J. Frank Dobie, Guy Owen, Frances Gray Patton, and Sylvia Wilkinson in Southern Writers: A New Biographical Dictionary, Louisiana State University Press, 2006; “Contemporary Fiction, in Conversations with Elizabeth Spencer, University Press of Mississippi, 1991; “An Interview with Eudora Welty,” in More Conversations with Eudora Welty, University Press of Mississippi, 2000; “Praying for Baseball,” in Conversations with Willie Morris, University Press of Mississippi, 2000; and numerous interviews with scholars, novelists, poets, and writers published between 1980 and 1997 in Ideas, the newsletter of the National Humanities Center.