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THE NPR YEARS

THE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS, NORMAN CORWIN’S WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS: BILL OF RIGHTS 200TH ANNIVERSARY, NPR PLAYHOUSE, FIFTY YEARS AFTER 14 AUGUST, 13 BY CORWIN, MORE BY CORWIN
Radio, it seemed, was not done with Norman Corwin. In 1982 National Public Radio (NPR) commissioned a series based on America’s holidays. The series was broadcast on its network of 270 stations. Under the collective title of The National Holidays, Corwin wrote and directed shows for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day. The series first aired on these holidays from May 29, 1983 through January 1, 1984. Jay Kernis produced.

 

An idea to recreate Corwin’s 1941 celebration of the Bill of Rights was floated at the 1988 Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop. With the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights approaching on December 15, 1991, David Ossman (of The Firesign Theater) and Judith Walcutt decided to produce an updated all-star version through their company Otherworld Media. Corwin insisted on updating the script, which he also directed, for the occasion. Recorded in Hollywood, the program, Norman Corwin’s We Hold These Truths: The Bill of Rights 200th Anniversary, was carried on every radio network in the United States, both public and commercial on December 15, 1991. It was fifty years to the day when Corwin had helmed the first four-network broadcast in history.

 

Norman Corwin was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993.

 

In 1994 Corwin revised the script of The Strange Affliction and directed it for The California Artists Radio Theater (CART), radio veteran Peggy Webber’s group dedicated to keeping the art form alive and vibrant. This time Samantha Eggar and David Warner took the leads. The show was heard over NPR Playhouse.

 

1995 was the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. NPR rebroadcast Corwin’s Magnus Opus, On a Note of Triumph on May 8, 1995. When NPR expressed interest in rebroadcasting 14 August on its 50th anniversary, Corwin refused. Not satisfied with the rushed effort in 1945, he proposed to rewrite the piece especially for NPR. The result was Fifty Years After 14 August, a half hour program narrated by Charles Kuralt. Aired in August 1995, the show would earn Norman Corwin the The Alfred I. duPont – Columbia University Award. It also earned his another shot at a network radio series.

 

But before the new material came 13 by Corwin, a series of Corwin’s favorite shows from his starred past. It aired over NPR during the span between Fifty Years After 14 August and his new series, aptly called More by Corwin.

 

13 by Corwin

 

They Fly Through the Air

Radio Primer

Descent of the Gods

Mary and the Fairy

El Capitan and the Corporal

The Undecided Molecule

The Odyssey of Runyon Jones

My Client Curley

New York: A Tapestry for Radio

Cromer

Untitled

The Long Name None Could Spell

Could Be

 

With More by Corwin, produced by Mary Beth Kirchner, Corwin was once again given a free hand to create whatever his wanted in this series of hour-long programs. The final show, a half-hour in length, aired nationwide on December 31, 1999 at 11:30 pm, as the twentieth century drew to a close (at least in terms perceived by most Americans).

 

More by Corwin

 

No Love Lost (11/2/96)

The Writer with the Lame Left Hand (12/96)

The Curse of 589 (3/97)

Our Lady of the Freedoms and Some of Her Friends (7/97)

The Secretariat (11/97)

Memos to a New Millennium (12/31/99)

 

NPR made its programming available to member stations who were free to air the show when it fit their schedule, which it why the broadcast dates (except for the first and last program) list the month and year of release. Actual broadcast dates varied nationwide.

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