According to the Times, Bookspan began his radio career at the age of 18 at the radio station of Harvard University, where he interviewed Aaron Copland in 1944. Later, he hosted broadcasts for the Boston Symphony and the New York Philharmonic and worked for National Public Radio and New York's WQXR. In 1976, John Goberman, the executive producer of Live From Lincoln Center, hired him to serve as the voice of the newly created program.
His narrations, delivered in an instantly recognizable rumble, both friendly and erudite, included descriptions of the action on stage, program notes, and, as the Times puts it, a closing "buoyant summation or perhaps a succinct rave."
Bookspan did not appear on screen, like the frequent host of the program, Beverly Sills. His voice, which sounded vaguely as if it came from high above the stage, in fact issued from a makeshift studio—sometimes a closet or the ladies' room at Alice Tully Hall.
"As sportscaster makes the game come alive, I hope I make the music come alive," he told the Times. "I want the audience to become involved, to love what they're hearing."
A replacement has not yet been named. Bookspan will continue to write program notes for the Live From Lincoln Center web site.