Footloose or Screw Loose? Sondra Lowell Gives Listeners All the News That's Fit to Tap

updated 01/19/1987 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/19/1987 01:00AM

Reading the news was good enough for Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. It's good enough for Dan Rather and Connie Chung. Sorry, though, it isn't quite good enough for Sondra Lowell; after all, there are so many other things you can do while you're reading the news. You can dress up and wear wigs, even if you are on radio and no one can see you. You can capsulize the news in rhyming couplets. And, if you still feel you're not trying hard enough, you can tap-dance at the same time.

Lowell, a petite 42-year-old from Minnesota, has been leaving the competition flat-footed since 1983, when she signed on with KABC radio in L.A. Listeners to her once-a-month syndicated 90-second segments kick off their weekends with such thought-provoking flashes as, "The U.S. mining industry hit an all-time low; Dynasty's stars have all re-signed with the show." In the background, for music lovers, is a Lowell-composed '20s-style tune—and the hypnotic tattoo of those pounding feet. "I get the news across to people who otherwise wouldn't listen," says Lowell, who doesn't like it when Gaddafi makes headlines because "there's just nothing that rhymes with that man's name." Once a week Lowell doubles as the Tabloid Tattler, reading selections from supermarket journals. "People would humiliate themselves reading this stuff," reasons Lowell, "so I do it for them."

Lowell, a former free-lance theater critic, has tapped out the news from more places than Samuel Morse ever got to, including Nicaragua and East Berlin. Her ambition is to do a feature-length video of her life. If that doesn't work out, maybe she can get a job driving around in a car, reporting on helicopter traffic.

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