Columbia Workshop

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Radio drama director William N. Robson

Columbia Workshop was a radio series that aired on the Columbia Broadcasting System from 1936 to 1943, returning in 1946–47.

Irving Reis[edit]

The series began as the idea of Irving Reis.[1] Reis had begun his radio career as an engineer and developed a fascination with the possibilities of the relatively new medium. His idea was to use experimental modes of narrative to enhance the way a narrative was conveyed over the radio. Reis had isolated attempts to experiment on the radio: Before the Columbia Workshop's debut, he had directed at least a few radio dramas. For Reis, the Columbia Workshop was a platform for developing new techniques for presentation on radio as noted in the debut broadcast:

The Columbia Workshop dedicates itself to the purposes of familiarizing you with the story behind radio, both in broadcasting, as well as in aviation, shipping, communication and pathology, and to experiment in new techniques with a hope of discovering or evolving new and better forms of radio presentation, with especial emphasis on radio drama; to encourage and present the work of new writers and artists who may have fresh and vital ideas to contribute.[2]

As a sustaining program, the Workshop served as a symbol to prove to the public (and the Federal Communications Commission) that CBS was concerned with educating and serving the public.

Early shows on the Workshop exemplified Reis's penchant for experimentation through narrative and technical means. The second program, Broadway Evening followed a couple as they meandered down Broadway during an evening. A subsequent show had at least 30 characters functioning within a half-hour drama. Among the technical demonstrations were sound effects, the use of various kinds of microphones to achieve various aural effects and voice impersonators (including sound effects produced by voice).

The Fall of the City, Archibald MacLeish's verse play for radio, was published by Farrar & Rinehart following its Columbia Workshop premiere on April 11, 1937.

Reis called upon others to try their hand in writing new or adapting existing material for the experimental nature of the Workshop. Orson Welles did a two-part adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet (mentioned along with the Workshop in the fictitious film Me and Orson Welles), as well as a 30-minute condensation of Macbeth. Irwin Shaw contributed one show, and Stephen Vincent Benét adapted several of his short stories. Reis also experimented with readings and dramatizations of poetry, including works by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Masefield and Edgar Allan Poe. One of the most notable presentations of Reis's tenure was Archibald MacLeish's original radio play, The Fall of the City. With a cast that included Burgess Meredith, Orson Welles and 300 students, the play was notable for its portrayal of the collapse of a city under an unnamed dictator, a commentary on fascism in Germany and Italy.

Reis recognized music as an important part of radio presentation. As part of CBS's commissioning of five classical composers to write original works for radio, Deems Taylor narrated a concert (November 7, 1936) which demonstrated the possibilities of idiomatic music composition for radio by playing orchestrations of three works by staff arranger Amadeo de Fillipi.[3]

Among the most significant musical contributions Reis made was appointing Bernard Herrmann music director of the Workshop.[4] Herrmann had previously worked on CBS primarily as a conductor. He had composed his first radio drama for the Workshop, but it was only after his second program, Rhythm of the Jute Mill (broadcast December 12, 1936) that the appointment was made. Thereafter Herrmann composed many radio shows himself, also conducting the music of others and even proposing a show entirely devoted to music composed for the Workshop.[5]

Other significant musical contributions during Reis's directorship include Paul Sterrett's and Leith Stevens's score for a two-part presentation of Alice in Wonderland in which music took the place of all sound effects, and Marc Blitzstein's half-hour musical I've Got the Tune, which similarly tried to convey sound effects and long-distance travel through purely musical means.

William N. Robson[edit]

On the broadcast of December 23, 1937 (the first of a two-part dramatization of Lewis Carroll's Alice Through the Looking-Glass), it was announced that William N. Robson had succeeded Irving Reis as director of the Columbia Workshop. Reis moved to Hollywood and continued his career in the film industry. Though the Workshop continued some experimentation, Robson placed greater emphasis on good dramatic adaptations, rather than didactic explanations of radio techniques.

Robson was not averse to experimentation. His San Quentin Prison Break, originally broadcast prior to the Workshop on January 16, 1935 was based on an actual incident. To achieve a sense of realism, the dramatization was a combination news report or documentary. Unlike most radio dramas, there was no narrator involved. This was later rebroadcast as part of the Workshop on September 10, 1936.

Under Robson's aegis, the Workshop was able to broadcast a number of notable shows. Known more as a film director, Pare Lorentz wrote and directed Ecce Homo, a story concerning the relationship of man and technology. Both Irwin Shaw and Archibald MacLeish were invited back to write and direct shows as they had done under Reis's leadership. The Workshop extended its experimental mode by preceding the new MacLeish play, Air Raid with a broadcast of its rehearsal. Stephen Vincent Benèt continued to write for the Workshop, and author Wilbur Daniel Steele made his own adaptations of his previously written short stories. Arch Oboler, known for Lights Out! series, contributed one script, as did Thornton Wilder and budding writer Arthur Laurents.

At times, Robson reached beyond the typical crop of radio authors, selecting at least one script (Anita Fairgrieve's Andrea del Sarto), from his class in radio writing at New York University as well as soliciting scripts on the air from the listening audience.

With Bernard Herrmann continuing as music director, Robson (probably at Herrmann's insistence) included a few extended musical works and opera on the Workshop. Frederick Delius's Hassan, and two operas by Vittorio Giannini, Beauty and the Beast and Blennerhasset, were among those heard. Robson apparently stepped down sometime in mid-1939, after which the Workshop was somewhat adrift. Brewster Morgan and Earle McGill are credited as being those responsible for continuing the series.

Norman Corwin[edit]

Norman Corwin had been a rising star at CBS for a few years, and had even some of his work aired on the Workshop as early as 1938, when his adaptation of Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage aired. But his sense of social justice again changed the direction of the Workshop into one frequently addressing current issues. By the fall 1940, Corwin was leading the Workshop, and in 1941, the series was giving the subtitle 26 by Corwin, attesting to the author's seemingly indefatigable energy. Given Corwin's strong interest in issues of the day, it is ironic he left the Workshop just one month prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Final years[edit]

It is not entirely clear who led the Columbia Workshop during 1942, but interest in the program was clearly waning. There were a few significant programs (historically the most interesting of them is probably the airing of John Cage's and Kenneth Patchen's The City Wears a Slouch Hat). There are only a few references to shows in 1943. The show had a revival in the 1946–47 season. When it was revived in 1956, it was retitled the CBS Radio Workshop.

Radio techniques[edit]

The Columbia Workshop gave authors, directors, sound engineers and composers many opportunities to experiment with the use of sound as a device for enhancing narrative.

Sound filters[edit]

Buck Rogers was broadcast from a 21st-floor studio that had been troubled with air conditioning noises. At a bend in a duct the air gave a whoosh that had been difficult to dampen. Later, when it became necessary to suggest a rocket traveling through outer space, someone remembered the duct and put a microphone in the bend. Whenever Buck Rogers was on the move, the microphone was opened, producing the sound of a spaceship. This was the first development in sound filters.

Filters developed upon the need for radio directors to find a way to portray a voice over the telephone. The filters were generally small boxes through which a microphone circuit could be shunted. The box had dials on its surface. Its inner mechanism could remove upper or lower tones or a combination of them to give an incomplete reproduction, as given by a telephone. The dials allowed the engineer to vary the effect, creating varieties of incompleteness.[6] It became common for radio personnel to play around with the filters to find new sounds, and then having radio shows based upon their discoveries.


Many of the staff who worked on the Columbia Workshop would continue with CBS and work for television.


The Columbia Workshop received a 1946 Peabody Award for Outstanding Entertainment in Drama.[7]

List of Columbia Workshop programs[edit]

This is a list of all the Columbia Workshop programs, giving known information about authors, adaptors, directors/producers, composers.[8] Occasional remarks have been included. Gaps in dates usually refer to programs that were pre-empted. Information for the years 1942–43 is difficult to come by.

Date Title Writer Adaptation Director/Producer Music Remarks
July 18, 1936 A Comedy of Danger Richard Hughes - Myron Sattler - First show
The Finger of God Percival Wilde
July 25, 1936 Broadway Evening Leopold Proser - Irving Reis - -
August 1, 1936 Technical Demonstration - - Irving Reis - -
Cartwheel Vic Knight
August 8, 1936 Experiment Mary Parkington - Irving Reis - -
Highway Incident Brian J. Byrne
August 15, 1936 Case History Milton M. E. Geiger - Irving Reis - Fantasy of pilot in airline crash
August 22, 1936 The March of the Molecules Orestes H. Caldwell (FRC commissioner) - Irving Reis - Demonstration of how radio works
There Must Be Something Else Helen Bergovoy
September 5, 1936 San Quentin Prison Break William N. Robson - William N. Robson - Rebroadcast of a play originally broadcast January 16, 1935
September 12, 1936 Voyage to Brobdingnag Jonathan Swift Leopold Proser Irving Reis - -
September 19, 1936 Hamlet, Acts 1-2 William Shakespeare Orson Welles Orson Welles - -
September 26, 1936 The Dream Maker Charles Burton - Irving Reis - Fantasy of how dreams are made
Shadows That Walk In - Ghost analysis
October 3, 1936 St. Louis Blues
October 10, 1936 Sound Demonstration
October 17, 1936 Dauber John Masefield Burke Boyce Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann
October 24, 1936 Letting the Cat Out of the Bag - - - - Interview on vocal sound effects with Brad Barker and Madeleine Pearce
November 7, 1936 Music for Radio Narration by Deems Taylor - Davidson Taylor Debussy: Golliwogg's Cakewalk, Schumann: Traumerei, Bizet: Farandole (from L'Arlesienne Suite)
orchestrated by Amadeo di Fillipi
To illustrate idiomatic use of radio orchestration for the Columbia Composers' Commission
November 14, 1936 Hamlet, acts 3-5 William Shakespeare Orson Welles Orson Welles -
November 21, 1936 The Use of Theaters for Broadcasts E. E. Free - Irving Reis - Electrical demonstration
2000 Were Chosen E.P. Conkle -
November 28, 1936 The American Patent System Irving Reis - Irving Reis - Honoring 100th Anniversary of the U.S. Patent Office
December 12, 1936 Rhythm of the Jute Mill William N. Robson - William N. Robson Bernard Herrmann -
December 19, 1936 The Gods of the Mountains Lord Dunsany - - Bernard Herrmann -
December 26, 1936 The Happy Prince Oscar Wilde - Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann -
January 2, 1937 Public Domain Eustis Wyatt - Earle McGill - Fantasy of PD characters yearning for release from stories
January 9, 1937 Interview with a Control Engineer, part 1 van Voorhees, control engineer - - Clyde Borne, singer Control sound engineering
A Voyage to Lilliput Jonathan Swift (Irving Reis?) Irving Reis -
January 16, 1937 Interview with a Control Engineer, part 2 - - - - microphone mixing
An Incident of the Cosmos Paul Y. Anderson - Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann Extraterrestrials witness the end of Earth
January 23, 1937 The Signal-Man Charles Dickens - Irving Reis and Earle McGill - -
January 30, 1937 Evolution of the Negro Spiritual - - Irving Reis arrangements by Clyde Barry & Helen Bergeron -
February 6, 1937 Rime of the Ancient Mariner Samuel Taylor Coleridge Leopold Proser Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann -
February 13, 1937 Sound and the Human Ear Narrated by Dr. John Steinberg - Irving Reis(and pro.) - demonstration of pitch perception
February 28, 1937 Macbeth William Shakespeare Orson Welles Orson Welles Bernard Herrmann -
March 7, 1937 - - - - (unidentified show)
March 14, 1937 Split Seconds Irving Reis - Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann Script first broadcast in 1931
March 21, 1937 Danse Macabre Helen Bergeron, George Zachary - Irving Reis Camille Saint-Saëns -
March 28, 1937 Eve of St. Agnes John Keats Edward A. Byron Edward A. Byron - -
April 4, 1937 Big Ben John Mossman - John Mossman - -
April 4, 1937 Crisis Roy Winsower - Roy Winsower - -
April 11, 1937 The Fall of the City Archibald MacLeish - Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann -
April 18, 1937 R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) Karel Čapek - Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann -
April 25, 1937 St. Louis Blues Irving Reis - Irving Reis Blues by W.C. Handy Orig. written in 1932; first play for radio about radio; First heard on the Workshop Oct. 3, 1936
May 2, 1937 Drums of Conscience - - Irving Reis - -
May 9, 1937 Supply and Demand Irwin Shaw - Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann Worthington Minor, "director of dialogue and staging"
May 16, 1937 Paul Revere Stephen Vincent Benét - Bernard Herrmann -
May 23, 1937 A Night at an Inn Lord Dunsany - Irving Reis Debussy, conducted by Bernard Herrmann -
May 30, 1937 Discoverie Merrill Denison - Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann -
June 6, 1937 Downbeat on Murder Charles Tazewell - Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann voices change into musical notes
June 13, 1937 The Young King Oscar Wilde - Irving Reis - -
June 20, 1937 Red-Head Baker Albert Maltz - Joseph Losey Bernard Herrman -
June 27, 1937 Babouk Guy Endore Lester Fuller Edward A. Blatt, Irving Reis Bernard Herrman -
July 4, 1937 Mr. Sycamore Robert Ayre Leonard Proser - Bernard Herrmann -
July 11, 1937 The Tell-Tale Heart Edgar Allan Poe Charles Tazewell Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann Used sounds of real heartbeats
July 18, 1937 Fifty Grand Ernest Hemingway - Bernard Herrmann -
July 25, 1937 A Matter of Life and Death Leopold Atlas - Irving Reis - -
August 1, 1937 Daniel Webster and the Sea Serpent Stephen Vincent Benét Sheldon Stark Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann -
August 8, 1937 An Incident of the Cosmos(rep) Paul Y. Anderson - Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann -
Last Citation John Whedon
August 15, 1937 Escape (part 1) John Galsworthy Leopold Proser Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann -
August 22, 1937 Escape (part 2) John Galsworthy Leopold Proser Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann -
August 29, 1937 The Half-Pint Flask Dubose Heyward Irving Reis William N. Robson (Victor Young?) -
August 30, 1937 Twelfth Night William Shakespeare Orson Welles Orson Welles, director, John Houseman, producer - Includes readings by Pepys, Manningham, Mazlitt, and Brandes
September 5, 1937 S.S. San Pedro James G. Cozzens Betsy Tuttle William N. Robson Charles Paul James Gould Cozzens
September 12, 1937 Death of a Queen Hilaire Belloc Val Gielgud Val Gielgud - Originated from BBC in London
September 19, 1937 Riders to the Sea John Millington Synge - Irving Reis - Originated from Dublin, Ireland
September 26, 1937 Alice in Wonderland, part 1 Lewis Carroll William N. Robson William N. Robson Paul Sterrett -
October 3, 1937 Alice in Wonderland, part 2 Lewis Carroll William N. Robson William N. Robson Paul Sterrett and Leith Stevens -
October 10, 1937 Meridian 7-1212 Irving Reis - Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann -
October 17, 1937 The Killers Ernest Hemingway Irving Reis Irving Reis - -
October 17, 1937 Illusion Georgia Backus - Georgia Backus - -
October 24, 1937 I've Got the Tune Marc Blitzstein - Marc Blitzstein -
October 31, 1937 Sweepstakes Irving Reis & Charles Martin - Irving Reis & Charles Martin Bernard Herrmann -
November 7, 1937 The Horla Guy de Maupassant Charles Tazewell Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann -
November 14, 1937 Mr. Justice Irving Reis - - -
November 21, 1937 Georgia Transport John Williams Andrews - Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann Repeat from Sept. 27, 1937
November 28, 1937 First Violin Norman Davey Sally Russell Irving Reis - -
December 2, 1937 - - - - - (unidentified show)
December 9, 1937 Marconi - Orrin Dunlap - Bernard Herrmann -
December 16, 1937 Metzengerstein Edgar Allan Poe Charles Tazewell Irving Reis Bernard Herrmann -
December 23, 1937 Alice Through the Looking-Glass, part 1 Lewis Carroll William N. Robson William N. Robson Paul Sterrett and Leith Stevens Robson succeeds Reis as head of Columbia Workshop
December 30, 1937 Alice Through the Looking-Glass, part 2 Lewis Carroll William N. Robson William N. Robson Paul Sterrett and Leith Stevens -
January 8, 1938 The Ghost of Benjamin Sweet, part 1
January 15, 1938 The House That Jack Didn't Build Alfred Kreymborg William N. Robson Experiment in drama
January 16, 1938 Mr. Whipple is Worried Bernard Herrmann
January 22, 1938 Robert Owens Bernard Herrmann
January 29, 1938 Madame Curie Eve Curie William N. Robson William N. Robson Bernard Herrmann
February 5, 1938 Andrea del Sarto Anita Fairgrieve Earle McGill Bernard Herrmann Author was NYU student
February 12, 1938 Be Prepared Guy Della Cioppa & Richard Linkroum George Zachary Bernard Herrmann Boy scouts & demo of audio montage
February 19, 1938 The Well of the Saints John Millington Synge George Zachary George Zachary Bernard Herrmann Use of sound in delineating elements of supernatural fantasy
February 26, 1938 Night Patrol Stuart Hawkins
March 5, 1938 The Ghost of Benjamin Sweet, part 2 Pauline Gibson & Frederick Gilsdorff Nila Mack Bernard Herrmann Use of microphone filters
March 12, 1938 Hassan James Elroy Flecker Constance Brown Earle McGill Frederick Delius (Bermard Herrmann, conductor) opera
March 19, 1938 The Wedding of the Meteors Leslie Roberts & Joel Hamill William N. Robson Bernard Herrmann
March 26, 1938 J. Smith and Wife Charles Tazewell William N. Robson Bernard Herrmann No sound effects used
April 2, 1938 Seven Waves Away Richard Sale Margaret Lewerth William N. Robson Bernard Herrmann
April 9, 1938 The Broken Feather Michael Carroll William N. Robson Bernard Herrmann
April 16, 1938 The Terrible Meek Charles Rann Kennedy William N. Robson
April 23, 1938 Never Come Monday Eric Knight Stephen Fox William N. Robson Charles Paul Repeated June 25, 1938
April 30, 1938 Fours into Seven Won't Go Val Gielgud, Stephen King-Hall Val Gielgud
May 7, 1938 The Fisherman and His Soul Oscar Wilde [William N. Robson?] William N. Robson
May 14, 1938 Melodrams various [poems read by David Ross] William N. Robson Bernard Herrmann music composed 1934-35
May 21, 1938 Ecce Homo Pare Lorenz Pare Lorenz Bernard Herrmann
May 28, 1938 Bury the Dead Irwin Shaw William N. Robson William N. Robson
June 4, 1938 Tranga Man, Fine Gah John S. Carlisle John S. Carlisle & William N. Robson
June 11, 1938 Surrealism Ernest Walsh & George Whitsett Davidson Taylor Bernard Herrmann Also music by Erik Satie & Virgil Thomson
June 18, 1938 Reunion John Hines Jr. & Guy Della Cioppa William N. Robson Columbia Univ. Singers conducted by Lyn Murray
June 25, 1938 Never Come Monday Eric Knight Stephen Fox William N. Robson Charles Paul & Bernard Herrmann Repeat from April 23, 1938
July 2, 1938 The Constitution of the US William N. Robson
July 9, 1938 The Red Badge of Courage Stephen Crane Margaret Lewerth Norman Corwin Charles Paul Corwin's debut on CBS
July 16, 1938 The National Headliners William N. Robson
July 23, 1938 Murder in the Cathedral T. S. Eliot George Zachary George Zachary Bernard Herrmann
July 30, 1938 Tristam Edwin Arlington Robinson Stella Reynolds William N. Robson Wagner (Cond. BH)
August 6, 1938 The Devil and Daniel Webster Stephen Vincent Benét Charles R. Jackson Earle McGill Bernard Herrmann
August 13, 1938
August 20, 1938 (unidentified show)
August 27, 1938 Pelleas et Melisande
September 1, 1938 (unidentified show)
September 8, 1938 (unidentified show)
September 15, 1938 Outward Bound Sutton Vane Charles R. Jackson Martin Gosch Bernard Herrmann
September 22, 1938 He Doubles in Pipes Hilda Cole William N. Robson
September 29, 1938 The Lighthouse Keepers Paul Cloquemin Norman Corwin
October 13, 1938 Brushwood Boy Rudyard Kipling Eustace Wyatt Earle McGill Bernard Herrmann
October 20, 1938 The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden Thorton Wilder
October 26, 1938 Air Raid (Rehearsal) Archibald MacLeish William N. Robson
October 27, 1938 Air Raid Archibald MacLeish William N. Robson
November 3, 1938 Poetic License Norman Corwin Norman Corwin
November 10, 1938 A Drink of Water Wilbur Daniel Steele Max Wylie Martin Gosch Bernard Herrmann
November 17, 1938 Luck Wilbur Daniel Steele Margaret Lewerth Martin Gosch;
Betsy Tuttle, producer.
Bernard Herrmann
November 24, 1938 Beauty and the Beast Robert A. Simon (libretto) Vittorio Giannini
(Howard Barlow, conductor)
December 1, 1938 The Giant's Stair Wilbur Daniel Steele Charles R. Jackson Earle McGill Bernard Herrmann
December 8, 1938 Man With a Gun/
Experiments in Music/
Fall of Jericho
Sound engineer: Al Span Charles Vanda Simeone, music director 3 pop songs in 2nd half of show
December 15, 1938 A Trip to Czardis Edwin Granberry James & Elizabeth Hart Bernard Herrmann
December 22, 1938 Bread on the Waters Arch Oboler Earle McGill Alexander Courage Sound: D. Gaines
December 29, 1938 Crosstown Manhattan Travis Ingham, Norman Corwin William N. Robson Alfred Newman,
Mark Warnow
January 5, 1939 Orphan Ego Arnold Manoff Leslie Ubrach William N. Robson Bernard Herrmann
January 9, 1939 Forgot in the Rains William Merrick Brewster Morgan Bernard Herrmann
January 16, 1939 Mr. Whipple is Worried James Frederick Brewster Morgan Bernard Herrmann
January 23, 1939 Prophecy Bernard Herrmann
January 30, 1939 Now Playing Tomorrow Arthur Laurents William N. Robson Bernard Herrmann
February 6, 1939 Do Not Open For 5000 Years William N. Robson William N. Robson
February 20, 1939 Nine Prisoners William March Brian J. Byrne Earle McGill Bernard Herrmann
February 27, 1939 Jury Trial Elizabeth & James Hart William N. Robson
March 6, 1939 The Winged Victory David Redstone Brewster Morgan
March 13, 1939 In the Train Frank O’Connor Hugh Hunt Brewster Morgan Bernard Herrmann
March 20, 1939 A Letter from Home Charles R. Jackson Nila Mack Bernard Herrmann
March 27, 1939 Pepito Inherits the Earth
April 3, 1939 Rendezvous with Kit Carson correct date?
April 10, 1939 They Fly Through The Air With The Greatest of Ease Norman Corwin Norman Corwin
April 17, 1939 Ear Essay On Broadcasting
April 24, 1939 Seems Like Radio Is Here to Stay Norman Corwin Norman Corwin Bernard Herrmann
May 1, 1939 Wet Saturday Lee Anderson play based on short story by John Collier Margaret Lewerth William N. Robson Bernard Herrmann
May 8, 1939 Wild Man
May 15, 1939 Law Beaters
May 22, 1939
May 29, 1939 Private Throgg
June 5, 1939 Highboy
June 12, 1939 Handful of Dust
June 19, 1939 Journalism in Tennessee Mark Twain Norman Corwin
June 19, 1939 Salesmanship Mary Ellen Chase Norman Corwin
July 6, 1939 The Half-Pint Flask Dubose Heyward Irving Reis William N. Robson [Victor Young?]
July 13, 1939 Never Come Home
July 20, 1939 John Brown's Body Stephen Vincent Benét Norman Corwin Norman Corwin Leith Stevens One hour broadcast
July 27, 1939 A Trip to Czardis
August 3, 1939 The Ghost of Benjamin Sweet
August 10, 1939 Radio Play William Saroyan
August 17, 1939 A Drink of Water
August 24, 1939 Meridian 7-1212 Irving Reis Irving Reis
August 31, 1939 Apartment to Let Dorothy Parker
Alan Campbell
Brewster Morgan George Lehman (composer)
Bernard Herrmann (conductor)
September 7, 1939 So This is Radio
September 14, 1939 The Use of Man Bernard Herrmann
September 21, 1939 Now It's Summer Arthur Kober Earle McGill
September 28, 1939 The Fall of the City Archibald MacLeish Irving Reis [no music] remake broadcast from California featuring Orson Welles[9] and 500 University of Southern California students
October 12, 1939 Wake Up and Die Frank Lovejoy Story of alarm clocks
October 19, 1939 William Ireland's Confession Arthur Miller
November 2, 1939 Blennerhasset [Conductor: Howard Barlow] Norman Corwin Music direction Howard Barlow;

production: George Zachary

opera music by Vittorio Giannini, libretto by Philip Roll The opera deals with the fortunes of two Americans who become involved in the revolt of Aaron Burr, a famous Revolutionary conspirator, whose plot was mapped at the home Harman Blennerhassett on the Ohio River island named after him.
November 16, 1939 A Letter From Above Florence & Ben Vine
November 23, 1939 A Circular Tour W. W. Jacobs
November 27, 1939 The Half-Pint Flask Dubose Heyward Leith Stevens Repeat from August 29, 1937
November 30, 1939 The Wonderful Day Frank Gould Earle McGill Alexander Semmler
December 7, 1939 As You Like It
December 14, 1939 Story in the Dogtown Common Joseph Liss Alexander Semmler
December 21, 1939 Mr. Cohen Takes a Walk
December 28, 1939 Higher Than A Kite Brewster Morgan [Brewster Morgan?]
January 11, 1940 My Heart Is In The Highlands
January 18, 1940 Fannie Kemble Joseph Liss and Louis Lantz
January 25, 1940 Heavently Rest Milton Wayne Earle McGill
February 1, 1940 Coals to Newscastle from J. P. Marquand's “Timothy Dexter” Charles Monroe Brewster Morgan
February 15, 1940 Double Exposure Maurice Level, Étienne Rey Alexander Semmler Adaptation of Grand Guignol play
February 22, 1940 An Autobiography of an Egotist
February 29, 1940 The Great Microphone Mystery; Ellery Queen Mystery: The Case of the Mysterious Leap Year
February 29, 1940 Leaping Out of Character From CBS Program book: “Announcers are to be singers; singers and directors turn actors; actors take a hand as musiciansî
March 7, 1940 My Client Curley Lucille Fletcher Norman Corwin Raymond Scott Repeated April 4, 1940
March 14, 1940 Three Original Playlets by KNX staff Writing, acting, producinto and music has been placed in the hands of elevator operators, ushers, stenographers, tourist guides, receptionists, mail clerks and other employed in the non-glamorous jobs connected with radio.
March 21, 1940 The Taming of the Shrew Shakespeare Joseph Gottlieb and Irvin Graham Phil Cohan “specially written modernized-musical”; music & lyrics by Gottlieb & Graham
April 4, 1940 Sunset Boulevard William N. Robson William N. Robson
April 18, 1940 Three Strikes, You're Out Vernon Delston Brewster Morgan
April 25, 1940 America Was Promises Archibald MacLeish George Zachary Nicholas Nabokov
May 5, 1940 The Honest Captain Knowles Entrikin, Howard Breslin Earle McGill Charles Paul (organ) Workshop switched to Sundays
May 12, 1940 A Day in Manhattan A. M. Sullivan Earle McGill
May 19, 1940 Carlos Chavez conducts a program of Mexican music Carlos Chavez,various
June 2, 1940 The Dark Valley W. H. Auden Brewster Morgan Benjamin Britten
June 9, 1940 No Complications
June 16, 1940 pre-empted
June 23, 1940 In April Once
June 30, 1940 The Man With the One Track Mind Lucille Fletcher
July 7, 1940 The Cock-Eyed Wonder About baseball
July 14, 1940 The Fish Story Joseph Gottlieb & Irvin Graham Phil Cohan musical
July 21, 1940 Canvas Kisser
July 28, 1940 Carmilla Sheridan Le Fanu Lucille Fletcher Earle McGill
August 18, 1940 The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins E. B. White-Dr. Seuss Nila Mack & Stuart†Aynes Nila Mack Charles Paul
August 25, 1940 I Followed The Seals
September 1, 1940 Alf, The All-American Fly Lucille Fletcher Earle McGill Bernard Herrmann
September 8, 1940 The Major Goes Over The Hill
September 15, 1940 Mr. Charles
September 22, 1940 Well Look Who's Here
September 29, 1940 The Pussy Cat And The Expert Plumber Who Was A Man Arthur Miller Brewster Mogran Charles Paul
October 6, 1940 They Also Serve
October 27, 1940 Fulton Fish Market
November 3, 1940 The Constitution
November 10, 1940 Bela and Dita Bartók Béla Bartók
November 17, 1940 I Get The Blues From Revues
November 24, 1940 The Dynasts Thomas Hardy W.H. Auden? Benjamin Britten
December 1, 1940 And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street Dr. Seuss Nila Mack production
December 8, 1940 The Trojan Women Euripides Edith Hamilton, translator Virgil Thomson
December 15, 1940 The Symptoms of being 35
In The Fog
December 22, 1940 The Plot to Overthrow Christmas Norman Corwin Norman Corwin Repeat of Corwin's original Dec. 25, 1938 performance
December 29, 1940 Dr. Johnson in Scotland
January 5, 1941 Love In 32 bars
January 12, 1941 Cassidy and the Devil
January 26, 1941 This Is From David Meridel Le Sueur Draper Lewis, Jack Fink Clinton Johnston Alexander Semmler
February 2, 1941 Help Me Hannah
February 9, 1941 Dress Rehearsal
February 16, 1941 A Crop of Beans Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Draper Lewis Guy della Cioppa
February 23, 1941 Wings of an Eagle
March 2, 1941 Roadside Lynn Riggs Alan M. Fishburn Earle McGill Burl Ives
March 9, 1941 Still Small Voice
March 16, 1941 Cassidy and the Devil
March 23, 1941 Out of the Air
March 30, 1941 The Creation
The Congo
Vachel Lindsay's "The Congo" poem;

"The Creation" was a dramatization of a paraphrase of James Weldon Johnson's book of "Negro poems and verse" "God's Trombones"

George Zachary Had been scheduled for an earlier broadcast, but which were postponed until March 30.
April 6, 1941 The Rocking-Horse Winner DH Lawrence ad. Auden & James Stern Guy della Cioppa Benjamin Britten
April 13, 1941 Glory Machine/The House/Brooklyn Cantata
April 20, 1941 The Reluctant Dragon Nila Mack
April 27, 1941 Jason Was A Man
May 4, 1941 26 by Corwin: Radio Primer Norman Corwin Lyn Murray
May 11, 1941 26 by Corwin: Log of the R-77 Norman Corwin Lyn Murray
May 18, 1941 26 by Corwin: The People, Yes Norman Corwin Earl Robinson
May 25, 1941 26 by Corwin: Lip Service Norman Corwin Larry Adler
June 1, 1941 26 by Corwin: Appointment Norman Corwin Lyn Murray
June 8, 1941 26 by Corwin: The Odyssey of Runyon Jones Norman Corwin Alexander Semmler
June 15, 1941 26 by Corwin: A Soliloquy to Balance the Budget Norman Corwin
June 22, 1941 26 by Corwin: Daybreak Norman Corwin Lyn Murray
June 29, 1941 26 by Corwin: Old Salt Norman Corwin Lyn Murray
July 6, 1941 26 by Corwin: Between Americans Norman Corwin Alexander Semmler
July 13, 1941 26 by Corwin: Ann Rutledge Norman Corwin Norman Corwin Alexander Semmler Ann Was An Ordinary Girl
July 20, 1941 26 by Corwin: Double Concerto Norman Corwin Paul Berlanger
August 3, 1941 26 by Corwin: Descent of the Gods Norman Corwin
August 10, 1941 26 by Corwin: Samson Norman Corwin Bernard Herrmann
August 17, 1941 26 by Corwin: Esther Norman Corwin Lyn Murray
August 24, 1941 26 by Corwin: Job Norman Corwin Deems Taylor
August 31, 1941 26 by Corwin: Mary and the Fairy Norman Corwin Lud Gluskin
September 7, 1941 26 by Corwin: Anatomy of Sound Norman Corwin [no music]
September 14, 1941 26 by Corwin: Fragments from a Lost Cause Norman Corwin Alexander Semmler
September 21, 1941 26 by Corwin: The Human Angle Dore Schary Norman Corwin Norman Corwin
September 28, 1941 26 by Corwin: Good Heavens Norman Corwin Lyn Murray
October 5, 1941 26 by Corwin: Wolfiana Thomas Wolfe Norman Corwin Norman Corwin Alexander Semmler
October 12, 1941 26 by Corwin: Murder in Studio One Norman Corwin Alexander Semmler
October 19, 1941 26 by Corwin: Descent of the Gods Norman Corwin Perry Lafferty [no original music] repeat due to Corwin illness
October 26, 1941 26 by Corwin: Odyssey of Runyan Jones Norman Corwin repeat performance
November 2, 1941 26 by Corwin: A Man with a Platform Norman Corwin Lyn Murrary
November 9, 1941 26 by Corwin: Psalm for a Dark Year Norman Corwin Alexander Semmler
November 16, 1941 Gator Boy
November 23, 1941 The Life of a Careful Man Virgil Thomson
November 30, 1941 Double Ugly
December 14, 1941 Citizen For Tomorrow 150th anniversary of Bill of Rights
December 21, 1941 Miracle In Manhattan Duffy's Tavern
December 28, 1941 Who Wants To Be Born These Days? New Years show – baby organization
January 4, 1942 The Fish on the Bathroom Floor
January 11, 1942 Free Speech
January 18, 1942 At The Sign Of The Lark “rare books”
January 25, 1942 The Man Without A Shadow Werner Mishel Charles Vanda Alexander Semmler Lurene Tuttle plays all 7 female parts
February 1, 1942 Jenny, The Bus Nobody Loved Perry Lafferty Bus rebellion
February 8, 1942 Portrait of Jennie Robert Nathan George D. Griffin Earle McGill Lehman Engel Santos Ortega
February 15, 1942 Opus For A Lute And A Liar Nila Mack Nila Mack
February 22, 1942 Plot for Mr. Greenberg
March 1, 1942 When the Bough Breaks
March 8, 1942 The Test Joseph Ruscoll
March 15, 1942 A Child's History of Hot Music
March 22, 1942 Green Receipt
March 29, 1942 Solomon and Balkis Bernard Rogers opera
April 5, 1942 Miracle of the Danube
April 12, 1942 He Should Have Stood In Elba Nathan Van Cleave Ted de Corsia
April 19, 1942 Play Ball Louis Hazam
May 3, 1942 Looking For Susie
May 10, 1942 Flight To Arras
May 17, 1942 Good Morning Mr. Crumb
May 24, 1942 Midnight Blue James Caleb Beach Perry Lafferty Nathan Van Cleave About blues
May 31, 1942 The City Wears a Slouch Hat Kenneth Patchen Les Mitchel John Cage
June 7, 1942 The Little One
June 12, 1942 Ritchie The Great Jerome Lawrence, Robert E. Lee John Dietz James Monks, Joan Allison
June 19, 1942 It Couldn't Happen To A Nicer Kid
June 26, 1942 History Is On The March/1812
July 3, 1942 Tag number 1-184-463 Skip Homier
July 6, 1942 Broadcast from the Year 1812
July 13, 1942 Let Me Tell You About My Operation
July 20, 1942 Someone Else Lucille Fletcher Earle McGill Bernard Herrmann Arr. of music by André Campra
July 27, 1942 Reveille Pass
August 3, 1942 Laughter For The Leader
August 10, 1942 Music Of The Mountains
August 17, 1942 All Out For Comedy
August 24, 1942 Hold ‘Em Yale
August 31, 1942 All Out For Comedy – Columbia Sketchbook
September 7, 1942 Café Society – Stars
September 14, 1942 Portrait of Jennie Robert Nathan
September 21, 1942 My Kid Brother
September 28, 1942 Florrie And The Country Green Abraham Polonsky Marx Loeb Ben Ludlow
October 12, 1942 Rebirth of Barrow’s Inlet
October 19, 1942 Remodeled Brownstone Lucille Fletcher John Dietz Martin Gabel
November 8, 1942 Proclaim the Morning
July 25, 1944 El Capitan and the Corporal
March 23, 1946 Act of Faith Irwin Shaw Charles S. Monroe John Dietz Alexander Semmler
April 13, 1946 Joe Peabody's Dream Betty Todd Charles Paul
April 21, 1946 The Playroom Howard Rodman John Dietz Norman Lockwood, conducted by Fred Steiner
April 28, 1946 A Study in Bells Bogart Carlaw - Albert Ward Norman Lockwood, conducted by Fred Steiner
The House André Maurois
May 19, 1946 The Trial Franz Kafka Davidson Taylor Guy della Cioppa Bernard Herrmann
August 25, 1946 The Path and the Door Les Crutchfield (first radio script) William N. Robson George Antheil (first radio score) conducted by Cy Feuer
September 15, 1946 The Last Delegate Margaret Lewerth John Dietz Robert Stringer
September 21, 1946 The Midnight Town Is Full of Boys Fletcher Markle Albert Ward Fred Steiner
October 5, 1946 Studies in Jealousy Irving Hopkins Alexander Semmler
October 12, 1946 Brewsie and Willie Gertrude Stein Richard Sanville Robert Stringer
November 2, 1946 Lee Fountain Comes of Age Joseph Ruscoll Werner Mishel Alexander Semmler
November 23, 1946 The Tin Whistle Richard Burdick Carl Beyer Everett Helm
November 30, 1946 It Shouldn't Happen to a Man Madelyn Pugh William N. Robson Maurice Carlton, conducted by Wilbur Hatch
December 7, 1946 The Parade Morris Markey Margaret Lewerth Richard Sanville Robert Stringer
December 14, 1946 Alice and the Echo Jean L. Meyer John Becker Alexander Semmler
January 11, 1947 The Surreal Marriage Elwood Hoffman Werner Mishel Alexander Semmler
January 25, 1947 The Natural History of Nonsense Bergen Evans Joseph Ruscoll Albert Ward Ben Ludlow


  • Bannerman, R. LeRoy (1986). Norman Corwin and Radio: The Golden Years. University, AL: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 978-0-8173-0274-0.
  • Barnouw, Erik (1968). A History of Broadcasting in the United States. Vol. 2, The Golden Web: 1933 to 1953. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-500475-5.
  • Coulter, Douglas, ed. (1939). Columbia Workshop Plays: Fourteen Radio Dramas. New York: Whittlesey House, McGraw-Hill Book Company.
  • Kosovsky, Robert (2000). Bernard Herrmann's Radio Music for the Columbia Workshop (PhD). Graduate Center, City University of New York.
  • McGill, Earle (1940). Radio Directing. New York: McGraw-Hill Co.
  • Wylie, Max (1939). Radio Writing. New York: Farr and Rinehart.


  1. ^ Much of the information in this article is drawn from Robert Kosovsky's Bernard Herrmann's Music for the Columbia Workshop
  2. ^ Reis, Irving. Excerpt from script of the Columbia Workshop premiere broadcast.
  3. ^[bare URL AV media file]
  4. ^ As announced on the show of December 12, 1936.
  5. ^ The suggestion is made by the announcer at the end of the Melodrams show of May 14, 1938, but it never took place.
  6. ^ Barnouw, Erik (1969). The Golden Web: A History Broadcasting in the United States, p. 65.
  7. ^ "Peabody Awards for '46 Announced" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 21, 1947. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  8. ^ This list is drawn from a variety of sources, in particular the catalog of the Paley Center, and many old time radio lists.
  9. ^ Brady, Frank, Citizen Welles: A Biography of Orson Welles. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1989 ISBN 0-385-26759-2 p. 225

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