The Modern Radio Drama

Saturday, December 25, 2010 - 02:53 PM

This holiday season WQXR and WNYC are broadcasting a radio drama version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with David Hyde Pierce as Scrooge and many of your favorite public radio hosts as narrators and characters. Composer John Forster played piano and A Prairie Home Companion's Fred Newman performed stunning live sound effects.

This sort of amazing art form is almost non-existent these days. A number of radio dramas, including works by Tom Stoppard, have been done our very own Jerome L. Greene Performing Space and there seems to be a new radio drama version of The Graduate (with Kathleen Turner) in the works.  But for the most part when people think of radio dramas or comedies, they think of Orson Welles and Jack Benny. This is a shame. I love this art form. I think it is incredibly evocative to listen to and a wonderful challenge to produce.

Do you have any particular fond memories of radio dramas of yore? Would you like to hear more on the radio?  What did you think of our A Christmas Carol? Love to know!


More in:

Comments [11]


Thanks for your interest! Tickets will go on sale on Monday, January 31st. For more regular updates, check back for performances at or follow @thegreenespace on Twitter.

Jan. 14 2011 11:39 AM

Three of us, Stoppardites, attended the December radio plays, "T is for Tom." We loved them, and have been trying ever since to get tickets to the next two performances that were announced at the time, February 8, and a date in June. I have telephoned several times and have talked to many nice people, none of whom knew anything about this, and have scoured the programs. To no avail. Please, please let me know when and how to buy tickets before it is SOLD OUT!

Jan. 12 2011 04:18 PM
Len Goldenson from New York City

Radio drama died for a reason. Boorrrring.

Jan. 01 2011 08:57 PM

Check out other radio dramas we've produced in The Greene Space here:

Dec. 30 2010 12:18 PM
Michael Meltzer

Television has discouraged the development in the young of the important skill of associating language with imagery. It can be learned later in life, but like everything else, becomes an uphill battle rather than a natural acquisition.
This not only threatens the radio drama as an art form, but the livelihood of the great storytellers, like Garrison Keillor. WQXR is not going too far afield in supporting that form as well.
As a result, I believe that TV has actually impacted negatively on the writing skills of younger people, which are in dire need of repair.

Dec. 29 2010 07:04 PM
JKL from Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

Back in the late 70s/early 80s WNYC aired a number of radio dramas - I sat and listened to every minute of the excellent Star Wars and Lord of the Rings serialized dramas, as I stared as the UV meter on my cassette recorder (yes, I was recording it for future listening!). CBS radio used to broadcast CBS Radio Mystery Theater, hosted by E.G. Marshall. I've also listened to a lot of old-time radio dramas, but these not-so-old-time dramas from NPR and CBS were practically another golden age. I love the format, and wish there was more of it around. I used to listen to an NPR station in Syracuse, New York, when I was in college, and they broadcast a few hours of radio drama every night after the news, commentary, and classical music broadcasts were done for the day.

Your version of A Christmas Carol was a lot of fun - I enjoyed hearing all the familiar voices from WQXR and WNYC. I would certainly listen to more radio drama if WQXR or WNYC will produce it!

Dec. 29 2010 03:18 PM


You can listen to The Christmas Carol performance here anytime:

Dec. 29 2010 10:57 AM
JHT from No longer in Manhattan

All I can infer from the state of the station is that there are other things you'd rather broadcast than secular classical music. Your on-air staff run off at the mouth interminably and your commercials go on and on as well. I know you don't call them commercials, but every one of your listeners knows that's what they are. The bottom line is that you are not keeping your commitment to play more music. I urge anyone with a stopwatch to time to the second the amount of music played each hour to see how far short you fall.

Dec. 29 2010 06:27 AM
cooper from nj

i love radio dramas. I'm sorry I missed this one. I have trouble believing that there isn't room somewhere on the dial for this lost art form.

Dec. 28 2010 11:17 PM
ARC from Brooklyn, NY

I attended the performance of A Christmas Carol and had the Best time! The warm cider served, the friendly attitude of the small audience, the helpers in attendance, the intimate performance space-I'd never been to "theater'" like that before. I posted the link to the recording on my Facebook page and raved to Everyone I know. It was Wonderful to put a face and personality to so many names from the radio. Made me feel much more invested in public radio and realize even more how valuable it is. I'd attend more recordings like this in a Heartbeat (it was So much fun!) and listen to them on the radio. Please do More.

Dec. 27 2010 06:58 AM
Robert Conrad from Cleveland, OH

Norman Corwin's "On a Note of Triumph" is not exactly radio drama, but it is a broadcast that makes use of radio techniques that create the theatre of the mind. It was broadcast in observance of VE Day in 1945. Brilliant writing and performance.
The problem with radio drama in this 21st Century is that the younger generations have grown up with pictures for their stories. And they won't sit still long enough to be captured by the magic of radio drama.
Robert Conrad
WCLV (FM) Cleveland

Dec. 27 2010 01:08 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Follow WQXR 







About WQXR Blog

Read WQXR's coverage of classical music news, trends, commentary and more here at the WQXR Blog.