Submit your Nominations
The Norman Corwin Award for Excellence in Audio Theatre
The National Audio Theatre Festivals needs your nominations for the Norman Corwin award!
Do you have an audio theatre icon you’d like to nominate? Please submit the following by email to Dr.
A short statement, no more than a paragraph, on why you believe your nominee should be honored with the Corwin Award.
A list of the nominee’s most notable productions and, for individuals, information on how they participated – writer, actor, director, engineer, etc.
The nomination period is open now through April 15th.
Please be accurate with contact information as we may need to ask for additional information regarding your nominee.
There is a small $35 fee for each nomination, and when we receive your nomination email we will reply with remittance details.
The Norman Corwin Award for Excellence in Audio Theatre celebrates the life of Norman Lewis Corwin, 1910-2011, by honoring Americans whose life work has made important contributions to the art Corwin did so much to establish and advance: audio drama.
"He was the greatest director, the greatest producer, and the greatest writer in the history of radio. Nobody could touch what he did." - Ray Bradbury
Bradbury’s high regard for the work of Norman Corwin is widely shared in the worlds of broadcast communications and show business. For this reason, National Audio Theatre Festivals chose to name its award “The Norman Corwin Award for Excellence in Audio Theatre.”
On May 8, 2010, then-NATF President Andrew Davis, Helen Engelhardt, and Richard Fish presented the first Corwin Award to Norman himself. Here, Fish speaks to the crowd gathered at the AERO Theatre in Santa Monica, the scene of one of many celebrations of Corwin’s 100th Birthday.
Past Corwin Award Winners
MILES B. SMITH
BRIAN PRICE (Great Northern Audio Theatre)
JERRY STEARNS (Great Northern Audio Theatre)
STAN FREBERG – LEGACY AWARD
THE FIRESIGN THEATRE
(Phil Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman, and Phil Proctor)
Works by selected Corwin Award winners may be accessed through the Corwin Artists’ Showcase.
When people today think of the so-called “Golden Age of Radio Theatre” from 1930-1962, there is no American name more famous than Orson Welles. His all-too-innovative adaptation of H. G. Wells' War Of The Worlds in 1938 taught the nation a valuable lesson, and became part of American history, but Welles' contributions to the art of audio theatre go far beyond that.
After a memorable season starring as Lamont Cranston, The Shadow (with Agnes Moorehead as his leading lady), Welles and John Houseman were hired by CBS in 1938 to bring their acclaimed Mercury Theatre productions from the stage to the airwaves. The Mercury Theatre On The Air presented many brilliant adaptations of great plays by great playwrights, from William Shakespeare to George Bernard Shaw. The company was a stellar ensemble. Along with Welles and Moorehead, players included Ray Collins, Joseph Cotten, Martin Gabel, Arlene Francis, Vincent Price, Mary Wickes, and Everett Sloane. Their work continued for several seasons as The Campbell Playhouse.
In 1942, Welles produced and hosted Hello Americans, a special radio series devoted to our neighbor nations in Central and South America. It was created at the request of Nelson Rockefeller, then Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, to foster inter-American understanding and friendship during World War II. Welles also produced Ceiling Unlimited, a series saluting the aviation industry, and his work was considered to have made a significant contribution to the war effort.
Welles' restless drive for both innovation and perfection expanded the horizons of American audio theatre. The high quality of his productions brought critical acclaim and exposed millions to great literature. He also worked with Norman Corwin, whom he deeply admired: Welles was featured in several of Corwin's most important works, including Between Americans (broadcast on December 7, 1941, the evening of the attack on Pearl Harbor), New York: A Tapestry For Radio, We Hold These Truths, Corwin's history-making celebration of the Bill of Rights, and 14 August, the special broadcast marking V-J Day and the end of the Second World War.
A past President of The National Audio Theatre Festivals, Charles (or Charlie as he prefers) is a multi Grammy and Audie award winning producer / director for audiobooks, and has produced hundreds of hours of award winning audio drama programming, for public radio and community stations, such as WBAI, in New York City.
An eminent audio impresario, Charles Potter, has produced and directed audio drama and award winning audiobooks for Random House, Harper, Simon and Schuster, and Warner Home Audio including dramatizations of X-Men, Ninja Turtles, and Super Mario Brothers comics, dozens of one-hour dramatizations of Louis L’Amour short stories, and many celebrity recordings including Maya Angelou, Allen Ginsberg, John Glenn, Sandra Day O’Connor and Colin Powell.
He has had audio installation work running uptown and downtown in New York (The Jewish Museum and Ellis Island), as well as in Chicago and Austin. In addition, Charlie has both adapted and directed audio drama on the Sci-Fi Channel’s Seeing Ear Theater. Charlie has won numerous industry awards including a CPB, Armstrong and Ohio State Awards, several Audies, and awards from the Houston and Chicago Film Festivals. He has produced three Grammy Award-winning recordings in the Spoken Word category.
But his first love is teaching. As an Adjunct Professor of Film and Television at New York University’s Department of Film and Television and Professor of History and Communications at the Institute for American Universities in Aix en Provence, France, Charles has taught sound and audio drama production at universities and in workshops in the US, Europe and Africa.
In 1979, Charles, along with a few friends from the “sound world,” helped to launch The Midwest Radio Theater Workshop at radio station KOPN. Over thirty years later, those efforts have grown into the National Audio Theatre Festivals which in 2013 launched a sound only festival for audio drama and audio fiction arts: The HEAR Now Festival.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1922, Erik Bauersfeld was mesmerized by the sounds coming from a simple crystal radio receiver at age 3, and has loved radio theatre ever since. “I got into radio because only there could I hope to never, ever have to face a live audience,” said Bauersfeld in 2009,. “I could never memorize.”
Bauersfeld settled in Berkeley, California, and founded Bay Area Radio Drama (BARD) at Pacificia Radio Station KPFA. He served as Director of Drama and Literature and Director of Special Projects for the station from 1961-2004. Since then he has remained President and Director at BARD. His work has been heard nationally and around the world, including broadcasts in Britain, Germany and Australia. He has served as President of the Radio Drama Jury for the PrixItalia, and represented American radio to the European Broadcasting Union.
Erik Bauersfeld's productions include the Eugene O'Neill Radio Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This series not only featured adaptations of O'Neill's most famous plays, such as The Hairy Ape and The Emperor Jones, but also created the first full-length performance of O'Neill's brilliant and controversial Lazarus Laughed. With Sound design and technical production by Jim McKee; Music composed and directed by Lou Harrison. He has produced many original dramas, as well as adaptations of stories by famous authors like Guy de Maupassant, Dostoyevsky, H.P. Lovecraft, Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Edgar Allen Poe, Graham Greene, and Ambrose Bierce.
Erik's brilliantly adapted and directed full-length productions of classic stories, such as Babbitt and the three-hour version of Bram Stoker's Dracula, show American audio theatre at its very best. He has become an international ambassador for the American audio theatre industry, and the respect which he and his work have earned is a great and lasting service to us all.
“Whatever success I've had has been because of the directions he sent me in,” said Oscar-winning sound designer Randy Thom, who has worked with Bauersfeld over the years at KPFA and Lucasfilm. Thom has won acclaim for his work in the Star Wars movies. Erik himself provided the voices for the characters Bib Fortuna and Admiral Ackbar in Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi.
Stan Freberg (1926-2015) was the last of the great network-radio comedians. He starred in a situation comedy, That's Rich, in 1954, and replaced Jack Benny's weekly show with his own hour-long program in the late 1950s.. As entertainment audiences turned to television, Stan's genius returned audio theatre to its original medium – recordings. His hilarious recorded sketches, including Green Chri$tma$, St. George And The Dragonet, and John And Marsha, sold millions of copies and gave new life to the art form. His satiric musical history, Stan Freberg Modestly Presents The United States of America, brings a full-blown Broadway musical to life for the ear, and is widely considered one of the greatest comedy albums of all time, acclaimed by entertainment greats from Steven Spielberg and Billy Crystal to John Lithgow and Penn & Teller.
There has never been a better (or funnier) exposition of the unique power of audio theatre than Stan's 1960s sketch where he drained Lake Michigan, filled it with hot chocolate, added a mountain of whipped cream, and had the Royal Canadian Air Force drop a ten-ton maraschino cherry on top. “Now,” he added brightly, “wanna try that on television?”
Called a “gentle iconoclast,” Stan's relentlessly satiric eye roved over politics, entertainment, and advertising – but his genius also created classic, memorable, and very effective ad campaigns for Contadina tomato paste, Sunsweet prunes, Great American Soups, the Encyclopedia Britannica, Chun King Chow Mein, and others. He did voices for animated cartoons (including Warner Brothers and Walt Disney productions), appeared in occasional films, and is fondly remembered for his puppeteering work on early TV in the children's show Beany and Cecil.
Stan Freberg's wide-ranging career spanned over 70 years, and included many more achievements than there is space here to relate. His love of radio, and audio theatre, lasted all his life. As host of the syndicated program When Radio Was, he introduced new generations to the great programs of the 1930s and 1940s, and inspired many – if not most – of the younger people working in the field now. But his own work has proven to be an enduring bridge between the live broadcasts of those days and the new digital creations which are carrying audio theatre into the future.
Marjorie Van Halteren
One of America's great sound artists, producer, director, writer, poet, reporter, professor, and three-time Peabody Award winner Marjorie Van Halteren has been named the winner of the 2018 Norman Corwin Award for Excellence in Audio Theatre.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Marjorie studied theatre in the Universities of Michigan and Montana, and performance at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. In the 1980s she brought high-quality original radio theatre back on the air in New York City as a producer at WNYC, creating the acclaimed series The Radio Stage, commissioning dozens of new works. The program surprised and delighted the station's management with a huge public response. She also produced documentaries and news features, winning her first Peabody Award in 1985 for Breakdown And Back, a radio series on mental illness.
Teaching has been one of her major focuses; she has taught audio and other media, creative technique and cultural subjects at many institutions including Fordham University and New York University in the United States, and schools in France, and China.
She explored audio art with people like John Cage, Klaus Schoening, and Luc and Brunhild Ferrari; exhibited her work at places like the Espace Saint Omer, artconnexion Lille, and the Whitney Museum of Amerian Art. Marjorie has always had a special love, as well as a very great talent, for audio theatre, and has produced programs in several countries, including the BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4, Radio Netherlands, and Westdeutscher Rundfunk Cologne. In America, Marjorie was a founding member of the Association of Independents in Radio, helped produce the Bob And Ray Public Radio show for NPR, and taught and directed plays at the Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop, and produced a series with Helen Engelhardt called "Coming Home to Us." She performs sound poetry in Europe and is currently doing a residency at the Ballet du Nord for a dance project. She produces an audio art podcast called “That Tuesday."
Miles B. Smith
Listeners to WGBH-FM have heard his work many times, but Miles has worked around the country and the world; he's been a major force in the production of superb audio theatre for decades. Throughout his 40 year career he has helped shape the sound for many acclaimed productions, including WNYC's ‘Radio Stage’ series, the serialized "Our Life Together Among the Works of Art", the L.A. Theatre Works, SciFi channel’s ‘Seeing Ear Theatre’, The Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop, and WBAI's live Shakespeare productions. Since 1986 he has been the recording engineer for the NPR program Selected Shorts. Miles is also the Audio Supervisor for The Moth recordings done around the world.
Miles has gathered sound for audio production in Wyoming, Texas, Vermont, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Pakistan, India, and many other places; engineered live radio broadcasts and live-to-stereo recordings in literally hundreds of East coast venues (including three Grammy nominated albums); and worked on award-winning live music broadcasts like the Newport Jazz Festival, the Newport Folk Festival, New Music America, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. He has helped design and establish dozens of studios in New York, Boston, Washington DC, Haiti and Grenada, including This American Life’s studios in NYC, and the PRX Podcast Garage in Boston.
Miles Smith is as deeply respected for his dedication and dependable teamwork as he is for his technical wizardry. Honoring an outstanding engineer for his work in audio theatre is a signal reminder that great work is always produced by a great team, and many different skills make essential contributions to the art of audio theatre.
Atlanta Radio Theatre Company
Back in 1984, it was William Brown who talked Patrick Stansbury into producing a weekly radio theatre program on a commercial station, and it was Patrick who talked the station into it and then somehow persuaded a local bank to sponsor it. Their very first year, working with two local stations, they did 26 shows...does that sound familiar, somehow? After that, they began producing shows in various venues, doing original material by writers like Tom Fuller, and adapting great stories by great authors.
When ARTC wants to do something, they don't do it by halves. If they want to scare you , they go to H.P. Lovecraft...and when they want to do science Fiction, they become the only organization to get permission to adapt the works of Robert A. Heinlein. Heinlein, who died in 1988, was probably the single most influential sci-fi author since the genre was born back in 1818. Heinlein is still in print over thirty years after he passed away. His widow, Virginia Heinlein, befriended one of ARTC's leading writers, the late Brad Lineaweaver, and ARTC's productions of Heinlein stories are true to the author's art, more honest and skillful adaptations than some big-budget motion pictures I could name but won't. Live shows around the state of Georgia, studio productions -- too many to list here -- and over the years, a great many contributions to the Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop, some excellent plays and a lot of wonderful people. William Brown, Tom Fuller, Bill Ritch and so many others -- engineer Henry Howard joined the Workshop gang early, and became one of the people who made it come together every year. If you heard Henry say "that'll work!" you knew you could depend on it.
Bill Dufris lost a heroic battle with cancer March 24, 2020, but he had been part of NATF's world since he attended his first Workshop back in 2005.
And he packed an amazing career into his 64 years: he started with British radio genius Dirk Maggs, playing Spiderman on the BBC, became the voice of Bob the Builder in cartoons, narrated over 400 audiobooks, and founded three award-winning audio theatre companies.
After 13 years in the UK honing his craft at the BBC and working with one of the leading practitioners of the medium, Dirk Maggs, BillDufris returned to the United States to continue the journey stateside. Since then he has founded multiple companies with collaborators Lance Roger Axt and Fred Greenhalgh, and helped forward the idea of audio drama productions to companies like Audible, resulting in Locke & Key and The X-Files.
Moreover, Bill always strove for high standards in the medium of audio drama. His work helped take the medium out of the trope of kitsch, away from the old-timiness of old time radio, to show that in the 21st Century, audio drama should be treated as more than a "hobby": rather, as respected an art form as film and television.
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