Revised: Due to Norman Corwin’s express request, the inaugural event in Burbank, CA was cancelled; Corwin, however, will still be the first recipient of the award, but would like to focus more attention on the many worthy non-profit arts organizations and creators, some of whom are having difficulty with funding in the present climate. I have kept the rest of the post intact in order to maintain continuity, but also so that those readers who do not know Corwin may get up to speed with his amazing body of work.
Do you know who Norman Corwin is? If you consider yourself a fan of audio drama, old time radio, classic film, 20th century history – or just plain good writing, Norman Corwin is one person you’ll enjoy learning more about.
Corwin has been called “the Poet Laureate of Radio,” and today is the right time for us to help codify this title for our children and grandchildren. If you’ve been following the news about CBS and Jack Benny, you know that even when a beloved artist has brought great prestige and a wide audience to a network, future generations may not have the chance to know about their talent, unless we keep the flame alive.
And what a flame…!
A former journalist, Corwin began writing for the CBS Radio Network in the late 1930s. The Corwin name on a piece quickly came to signify quality, thoughtfulness and passion, raising radio drama and the spoken word to new heights.
In particular, his pieces “We Hold These Truths”, (written to honor the U.S. Bill of Rights, and airing days after the Pearl Harbor attack) and “On a Note of Triumph” (a piece created in the wake of victory in the European theatre), provided hope to an American audience that suffered, like the rest of the world, through long years of war, deprivation and sorrow. These pieces radiated a deeply felt patriotism that neither took victory for granted, nor underestimated its costs, and were widely heard and loved by the public. For these works alone, Norman Corwin would be ranked as an American treasure.
But that, of course, was not it. In wartime, Corwin didn’t neglect our nearest and dearest ally, either, developing “An American in England,” making sure we understood what the British were enduring. And after the war ended, Corwin continued flexing his pen, and stretching the limits of his talents. “The Undecided Molecule,” for instance, dared to ask about the future, in a world that now had the atomic bomb – with darting humor. Or how about “Hollywood Fights Back,” (created with the help of many illustrious stars who were nonetheless risking their careers), which pushed back against an overzealous HUAC, an organization not only searching for genuine “fifth column” communists, but apparently willing to destroy the lives and careers of people who merely seemed “subversive”.
Corwin wrote over 100 audio dramas, books, and feature films… so many for us to treasure today. And not just “back then,” but also in recent times, with NPR commissioning new plays.
Corwin gave gravitas … class… to audio drama and the spoken, broadcast word.
So I’m happy to say that, with his 100th birthday coming up, as he continues as a visiting professor at the University of Southern California, there are plans to give something back to Norman Corwin, and you can help.
The National Audio Theatre Festival will be giving Norman Corwin an inaugural award that will henceforth wear his name – the Norman Corwin Award for Excellence in Audio Theatre –
on April 30th, at 7 pm, in the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, California. And NATF, a not for profit 501 (c)(3) organization, needs our help in getting a matching grant of $10,000 for this event. (See above notice). So, too, do dedicated fans, audio dramatists and filmmakers need your help, in convincing the government to honor Corwin with the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Find out how you can help here. (See above notice).
New to radio drama? Want to know more about Norman Corwin?
- Check out this NPR documentary from 1995, hosted by the late Charles Kuralt, and also featuring “On a Note of Triumph” as a full broadcast.
- Read R. LeRoy Bannerman’s “Norman Corwin and Radio: The Golden Years” online.
- And check out the many videos here, on the “Corwin Channel”.
On the anniversary of Nikola Tesla’s passing, it is our pleasure to present the world premiere “Tesla vs. the United States”, a new piece by Charles Moster, based on the life story of this fascinating and mysterious inventor. What do time travel, a death ray, the invention of radio and the FBI all have in common? Listen and find out!
All audio content copyright 2010 by Charles Moster and Deus Ex Machina. Video produced by NoirDame.com. Visual of Supreme Court courtesy of
Media: please find a release and detailed background information at our Media Kit site.