Ekphrasis My Eye; or, An Ear for Tulips

How many times have I said to myself, “Wake up and hear the tulips”? Literally, never.  But the improbability of following such a directive has crossed my mind, especially during the pandemic that has kept us from venturing out into the world and fully to engage all of our senses.  Seeing images of flowers is hardly the same thing as experiencing spring.  

The limitations of vicarious living online have made themselves felt.  I, for one, am not feeling it anymore, this ersatz world of keeping in touch without touching, of being nosey without the chance of a whiff, of getting a taste of what it’s like out there without getting as much as a morsel of it inside me.

That said, here I am online, flicking through digitized magazines and newspapers of yesteryear, a forest of ancient pulp springing back to life for a belated flowering.  Searching for nothing in particular, I came across this headline in an edition of Radio Dial dating from 20 May 1937: “Ted Husing to Describe Tulip Festival.”  Is there anything less phonogenic than an oversized still life of flowers?

More incongruous than the idea of devoting a sound-only broadcast to such a spectacle is the choice of Ted Husing as the guy to try out his ekphrastic skills on it. Was not Husing a celebrated sportscaster, typecast as such in movies like To Please a Lady (1950), as I mentioned here a long while back?  It must have been challenging for him to get animated when tasked with the assignment of making Liliaceae sound lively through verbal acrobatics.  I’m guessing.  I never heard the broadcast.

‘Actually,’ sports were only one aspect of his career in radio. Husing remarked in retrospect that he ‘logged far more broadcasting time on music and special events.’  He claimed to have been responsible for the discovery or promotion of entertainers including Rudy Vallee, Guy Lombardo, Bing Crosby, and Desi Arnaz.  

Husing had a nose for radio’s no-show business, all right.  In fact, he had it broken for that very purpose, as he explained it in his first autobiography, Ten Years Before the Mike (1935):

Some of the acoustics experts and sinus engineers decided my voice would have a bit more resonance if my antrums were widened. Or is it antra? Anyhow, since the technical people had spent years perfecting microphones especially for my vocal vibrations, I couldn’t see how I could hold back on my antrums, personal as they are to me. So I went to the sawbones, took a couple of shots of coke, and had ’em broken out.

Having gone through such lengths, you might as well travel to Holland to tell folks at home what tulips look like.  In fact, Husing only went as far as Holland, Michigan, where the festival in question was held annually.  And it wasn’t all about the tulips, either, as tiptoers were given a run for their money by the ‘Klompen Dance,’ an orchestrated clacking of thousands of wooden shoes on the pavement.  The article also threatened folk songs.  Not much demand for subtle word-painting there.

Antrum, tantrum.  However he felt that day, Husing was lucky to have had assignments like this, to have spent years translating observed sights into spoken words.  Lucky, because he ended up losing his eyesight after a brain tumor operation.  I imagine that spending much of his life on the air, creating a world made of sound helped him to shape a life for himself that was focused on the vision he only partially recovered.

Sure, radio is a sound-only medium; but it encourages the translative act of hearing that opens us up to the senses that we might lose sight of if we rely too much on our eyes. No need to cue those Klompen Dancers to drive the point home.

Blind Man’s Stuff: Alec Templeton in Time and Space

Last night, I had the good fortune to hear the music of Alec Templeton. Live and by proxy—and right here in town. Templeton’s compositions, among them barrier-obliterating and class-unconscious numbers like “Bach Goes to Town” and “Debussy in Dubuque,” were performed at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. Pianist Simon Crawford-Phillips was ably assisted by Templeton himself, whose voice and ways on the keyboard were heard in a variety of radio recordings from the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s.

Why here? Why now? Well, Templeton was a Welshman by birth, a fact that seems to have eluded most of the Welsh who pride themselves to be a nation of song. So, last night was as good and as high a time as any for his countrymen and women to acknowledge Templeton’s remarkable against-almost-all-odds career, even if the will to embark upon it took the composer-pianist as far West from the West of Britain as Hollywood. The countrywoman who did the acknowledging was Rhian Davies, teller of Templeton’s life in words and images. Davies, who generously acknowledged as well all the support and assistance her project received from broadcasting buffs and music lovers around the inter-networked world, has known about Templeton practically all her life. Eager to share her readily transmitted enthusiasm, she brought home to us, the assembled audience, that it is always Alec Templeton Time.

Templeton’s life is the stuff of legend. Born blind, he developed an ear so keen and a wit so sharp that he was destined to play tunes made for the cutting of rugs. That he was an expert at middlebrow musical culture has a lot to do with the fact that the eyes beneath his brows saw nothing and that his ears saw nothing but potential. Others, left in the dark yet accustomed to light, might have seen an insurmountable impediment.

The mind’s eye of Alec Templeton saw no such manifestations of doubt. He saw, say, Lower Basin Street … and took it. It may be that sightless people, who sense space by feeling their way around and listening intently, are not so much impressed by the walls facing them as their seeing contemporaries, not so much concerned with apparent boundaries, be they cultural or national.

“I understand,” a writer for Radio Guide remarked in 1936, “why his friends, when you start glooming about his sightless eyes, smile superciliously and say: ‘Save your sympathy for someone who needs it.’”

The stuff sighted folks concern themselves with is so much nonsense to a man like Templeton. Sensing a universe where others might imagine chaos, he crossed the waves and made a home for himself on the airwaves, authoring an etherized existence.

“Radio,” Templeton reportedly said, “is to me the greatest miracle of man’s ingenuity. My ears are my eyes, and I tune in at every opportunity, listening to everything from Vic and Sade to Toscanini.”

Hearing Templeton’s music performed live and seeing his career celebrated was a thrill. Yet as pleased as I was that all this happened in the little Welsh town where I now live, I wonder what claim Wales has to her native son. After all, the place of his birth, like his blindness, was not of his choosing. Indeed, he chose to unfurl his pinions, take to the air, and come to live for all willing to be all ears, in a medium whose art is not limited by space but that is instead the stuff—the no-matter—of time.   Make that Alec Templeton Time.

"Samson, made captive, blind": Milton on the Wireless

BBC Radio 3 is in the middle of a Milton season, designed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the poet’s birth. This week, Milton’s works are the subject of The Essay; his views, their significance and influence, are discussed on this week’s Sunday Feature, while excerpts from his poetry are recited on Words and Music. On 14 December, a new production of Milton’s Samson Agonistes will be presented by Drama on 3.

The wireless gave birth to the career of many a Milton, from announcers Milton Cross and John Milton Kennedy to comic Milton Berle. Among its writers numbers Milton Geiger, a playwright whom Best Broadcasts anthologist Max Wylie singled out for his ability to bring “reality and movement to a property that is in every sense an allegory.” More than any of those Miltons on the air, John, the poet and essayist, is truly in his element in the so-called blind medium of radio. His struggle to combat metaphorical blindness while being afflicted with physical sightlessness—a challenge that became the subject of a radio play (previously discussed here) was frequently the theme of his poetry, from “To Mr. Cyriack Skinner Upon His Blindness” to Paradise Lost and, finally, Samson Agonistes:

“O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!” the captured Samson, blinded and bereft of his powers, laments:

Blind among enemies! O worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age!
Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct,
And all her various objects of delight
Annulled, which might in part my grief have eased.
Inferior to the vilest now become
Of man or worm, the vilest here excel me:
They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse and wrong,
Within doors, or without, still as a fool,
In power of others, never in my own—
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.

As a political writer eager to get his word out, Milton might have embraced the swift spreading of ideas that wireless technology makes possible. He would have seen in broadcasting the dissemination of so much good mingled “almost inseparably” with so much evil, from which the good is “hardly to be discerned.” To him, though, discernment was not the result of a shutting out of anything potentially harmful or ostensibly bad, but of a taking in of it all and an informed judging of its qualities. He would have welcomed the chance to have his words reach the ears of the multitude in a single broadcast, and of hearing the voices of others in an open forum.

Yet was there ever such a forum on the air? As he did in his Areopagitica, Milton would have objected to the licensing and censorship that threaten and curtail the freedom of speech. Commercial broadcasting, he might have argued, is not unlike Samson, betrayed, imprisoned and abused: “in power of others, never in [its] own,” a “moving grave” awaiting death by television. Even when it was still capable of bringing down the house, radio, like Samson, went down in the process before ever entirely convincing anyone of the power and virtue of sightless vision.

So, if Samson is Radio, who is his Delilah? Would it be television, the sponsors, radio executives, or, perhaps, the Philistine public at large?

Blind Medium: My Eyes Are in My Heart (1959) by Ted Husing

Sometimes, when my heart is not in in, my mind’s eye begins to stray. That was what happened a while back when I tried To Please a Lady. Tried to follow it, that is. The Lady in question is one of Barbara Stanwyck’s decidedly lesser vehicles, and the horsepower on display in it is not likely to get my heart a-racing. Still, as previously reported, it has what it takes to get me excited about even the dullest of features: a radio angle. When I spotted announcer Ted Husing in one of the racetrack scenes, I started to reread my notes on Ten Years Before the Mike, his autobiography. I do not own a copy of that one; and, looking for it online, I realized that the chances of my adding it to my library are fairly slim at the moment.

During my search, I did come across another book by Husing, one of which I had not been aware. Nor had I been aware, seeing Husing on the screen, that he was plagued by something he was hiding from the world, tormented all the more by keeping everyone around him in the dark. At the time To Please a Lady was shot, in 1950, Husing was suffering from dizzy spells and began dragging his right foot. Years of denial and secrecy led to several accidents, all of them the result of a tumor that grew, undiagnosed, on Husing’s brain. Six years on, having finally faced an operation, one of the biggest and highest-paid voices in radio lost his eyesight and the will to live.

All this and more is shared in Husing’s second autobiography, My Eyes Are in My Heart (1959). While much of his life in broadcasting had already been recounted in his first, the two decades that had elapsed between the publications—and the misfortune that befell its author—make the later reminiscences not only more retrospective but also more introspective. “My values then were superficial,” Husing reflects. “Since then, I have learned to separate the real from the false. But this took many years, much suffering and much re-evaluation.”

Like many people who enjoyed a life and career that is considered a success based on obvious measures of fortune and fame, Husing shows himself remorseful, believing his affliction to have been a punishment, and a just one at that. For having been ashamed that his parents spoke with a pronounced German accent, for instance. For not having been a good husband and father. For having been too enamored with celebrity.

Now, I’ve never bought this kind of argument. If such retribution existed, it would appear that any disabled person is a sinner at heart. Luckily, Husing keeps his humility well in check, telling many an amusing anecdote about his decades in broadcasting, dropping names like a traveller, eager to be the envy of his friends, drops picture postcards into a mailbox hundreds of miles from home. Has he really been responsible for the discovery or promotion of entertainers including Rudy Vallee, Guy Lombardo, Bing Crosby, and Desi Arnaz?

Ted Husing was chiefly known as a sports announcer. “Actually,” though, as he points out, he “logged far more broadcasting time on music and special events.” Today, his name does not ring a bell resonant enough to make the multitudes pay attention; but, back in the 1930s, ’40, and ‘50s, that bell could open the doors to the swankiest New York City nightclubs. Never mind those places. What makes My Eyes Are in My Heart such a fascinating book is the insight it provides into a by now lost world of broadcasting during what is often referred to as radio’s golden age. Reminiscing about the life of radio and his life in it, Husing not only knows but is what he talks of: a blind medium.

As for a certain tough to please Lady . . . she does not even get a mention.

The Great Dictation: Milton, Munkácsy and the Blind Medium

I did not know what to expect when I stepped inside the Hungarian National Gallery, a war-battered royal palace turned into a public museum during the days of Communist rule in Budapest. Somehow, Hungarian culture has remained a closed book—or rather, a neglected volume—to me; and looking at rooms filled with art depicting scenes from Magyar history made me come face to face again with my own ignorance.

How welcome a sight was “The Blind Milton Dictating ‘Paradise Lost’ to His Daughters.” Yes, that face was familiar, as was the composition, even though I had never troubled myself to note, let alone pronounce, the name of its artist: Mihály Munkácsy. I was surprised to reencounter “Blind Milton” there, knowing it to be on permanent display at New York Public Library on 42nd Street ( where it is currently the centerpiece of an exhibition celebrating Milton’s life and works). As it turns out, there are two version of Munkácsy’s painting, the one in New York City being the larger of the two.

This year marks the quatercentenary of Milton’s birth, so we are likely to come across “Blind Milton” in the arts and literature sections of our newspapers or the pages of magazines on history and culture. Even in the 19th-century, the image was frequently reproduced on paper. Indeed, we happened upon such a reproduction at a second-hand bookstore in the Hungarian capital not long after our gallery visit, on the very day it was featured in The New York Times arts section online. The image became so familiar that, by the twentieth century, the

. . usual conception of John Milton in the imagination of America’s school children has been a misty mezzotint of a blind man sitting in a dark room dictating Paradise Lost to his bored but dutiful daughters.  That Milton was one of the most fearless and most revolutionary thinkers of his century few youngsters have ever been permitted to know.

.This is how, in 1939, Max Wylie prefaced “The Story of John Milton,” a script from the radio series Adventure in Reading (NBC; 1938-40). The play (by Helen Walpole and Margaret Leaf) tells of blindness, vision, and the specter of persecution as the monumental struggle of the beleaguered poet is being recalled by the voices he called forth in his art.

For twelve years, Milton’s ideas had been in the service of the Commonwealth, until the Restoration threatened to obliterate his words and legacy. Awaiting news from his friend Sir Harry Vane, Milton tries to dictate Paradise Lost to his daughter Mary:

Milton.  You aren’t writing, Mary, you aren’t writing!

Mary.  How can I father? How can I do anything . . . while we’re waiting for the coming of Sir Harry!

Milton.  Write.  Take down what I say.  “Wolves shall succeed for teachers, grievous Wolves, / Who all the sacred mysteries of Heav’n / To their own vile advantage shall turn. . . .”

Mary.  I cannot.  I cannot.  Paradise Lost may never be finished.

Milton.  Paradise Lost shall be finished.  I’m not a human being any longer, Mary.  I’m an instrument . . . a vessel . . . you don’t understand that . . . but no matter . . . I may seem hard to you and your sister . . . but that’s not important either. . . .

Mary.  I shall try to write.  Dictate it again, father.

Milton.  “Wolves shall succeed for teachers, . . .”

The war of ideas and the fight for their expression—a challenge as urgent in 1660 and 1939 as it is today—is a fitting subject for the so-called blind medium, a medium capable of conjuring images before the mind’s eye not grown dim from lack of exercise.

Milton is accused of treason. The burning of his books, to be executed by “a common hangman,” have been ordered. “Blind among my enemies. . . . How can I fight?” the poet cries in near despair, until, roused by his visions, he declares:

If, by my own toil, I have fanned the flame that burned out my eyes . . . then from that darkness will be born new eyes. All natural objects shut away . . . I can see clearer into life itself. . . . My vision will not be blurred or turned aside! And so, O, Highest Wisdom, I submit. I am John Milton, whose sight was taken away that he might be given new eyes.

It is in the opening lines of the third book of Paradise Lost that Milton comments on his condition:

I sung of chaos and eternal night,
Taught by the heav’nly muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
Though hard and rare: thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou
Revisit’st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veiled [. . .].
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of ev’n or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer’s rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of nature’s works to me expunged and razed,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou celestial light
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.

It seems that, in the scene depicted by Munkácsy, Milton is dictating these very lines, at the moment dramatized for Adventure in Reading. His three dutiful daughters look anything but bored. Entrusted with a solemn responsibility and not altogether ignorant of their father’s perilous position, they are rapt and apprehensive as they listen to the dictation, encoded in which is the speaker’s intimate story, a few telling lines in an epic on the fallibility of humankind.

Cheerio, Helen Keller!

Well, I’m not exactly a “shut-in”; but being visited by a late bout of seasonal allergies and looking out, red eyed and slightly hung over, at what has been declared the rainiest June on record, I sure can relate to The Story of Cheerio, a copy of which 1936 autobiography I picked up at the rare books room at Manhattan’s legendary Strand earlier this month. According to the cover, Cheerio is the “intimate story of radio’s most beloved character who has dedicated his life to the spreading of cheer, hope and kindliness. With inspiring human stories from the homes of his radio audience of ‘shut-ins.”

Seems like someone shut up this hero of the homebound, Charles K. Field, whom former president Herbert Hoover applauded for his “altruistic” use of the radio, but of whose fifteen years in broadcasting little survives today. A vintage recording of Cheerio in action can be heard at the close of the 19 September 1956 edition of Recollections at Thirty. Now, I’m not sure how much sentiment I can take on a biliously rebellious stomach; but I’m glad I decided to leaf through this as yet unread volume yesterday, when I came across this letter from Helen Keller, who was born on this day, 27 June, in 1880. It is a birthday letter, no less, read on the air on her 55th birthday. “Dear Cheerio,” it reads,

this is my birthday message. Please tell them I like to think God has made his shut-ins special transmitters of hope to the world. It is our lofty duty to defy the seeming omnipotence of Fate. To love. To endure. And to create, from our own wreck, the thing we desire. If we succeed in growing the sweet flowers of happiness among the rocks and crannies of our limitations, others will be inspired to nobler achievement. This alone is compensation. This is joy and victory! As I stand at the doorway of a new birthday, with its new opportunities and new tasks of faith and courage, may I ask my handicapped comrades to rejoice, with me, in that inner vision which makes us superior to outward circumstances and enables us to be one with all great ideals, all heroism, all deeds of beauty. Sincerely yours, Helen Keller.

Though not able to listen to the wireless, Keller was no stranger to the airwaves. When the story of her teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, was dramatized on the Cavalcade of America program (on 2 March 1938), Keller stepped behind the microphone for a brief message to the multitude. Cheerio, Ms. Keller, for making me come back to my senses on this shot-through-gauze, shut-the-blinds, best-slept-through Wednesday afternoon.

Senseless: One Soldier’s Fight to Speak Against War

Well, how do you like that! We just got ourselves a DVD/VCR recorder, in hopes of upgrading our video library and phasing out the old tapes that are piling up all over the place. As it turns out, the cassettes I shipped over from the US, which had played fine on the machine that gave up the ghost a couple of days ago, are being rejected by the new, regionally coded, high-tech marvel. Is it any wonder I am such an advocate of the state-of-the-Ark, the marvels of old-time radio drama?

On this day, 9 March, in 1940, for instance, playwright Arch Oboler masterfully exploited the potentialities of the medium with his adaptation of Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun. As reworked by Oboler, this “most talked of book of the year” relates the experience of a soldier (portrayed by James Cagney) who lost his limbs, his vision, his hearing in combat. More than twenty years later, lying “alone in a room in a hospital close to your city,” having “no arms, no legs, no ears with which to hear, no eyes with which to see, no mouth with which to speak,” he yet learns to communicate what serving his country at once enabled and disabled him to say. He does not want a medal; he wants to speak up. It is a freedom for which he fought with the weaponry that is responsible for its loss.

According to Oboler, Trumbo’s story “has even greater emotional impact” on the air because, by virtue of being “transformed into living speech,” the soldier’s words attain an “almost unendurable reality.” Johnny does not address the audience, but is overheard in his desperate attempt to make himself understood by the hospital staff and visitors, the living beings he senses only through the vibrations of their movements.

Oboler was particularly impressed by the scenes in which the “blind, deaf and dumb soldier learns to recognize the approach of the nurse by the vibrations of her footsteps coming up through the bedsprings and reacting against his skin.” It is a cruel irony that appeals to the melodramatist: a man who nearly lost all his senses now tries to make others come to theirs.

Unlike the 1971 movie adaptation, however, “Johnny Got His Gun” was produced at a time when speaking up against war was neither daring nor idealistic. Indeed, most intellectuals warned against a false peace, whereas to isolationists, who didn’t mind dealing with fascists overseas, keeping out of it was literally good for business.

Oboler was no pacifist; soon he would distance himself from “Johnny” and advocate instead the stirring of “hate” as being instrumental in motivating the masses in wartime. “Do not tell me that the people are disillusioned because of our past sins, our ‘Johnny Got His Guns,’ and so on, and that they need a dream of the new world before they are going to fight,” Oboler argued; “anger is what people want. And they want hate, the hate of a determined people who are going to kill and must kill to win this war.” That mass of “living flesh” in the hospital bed had made his appeal in vain.

New generations of Johnnies are getting their guns. No one hands us a voice; that we have to find for ourselves and raise while we may.

A (Blind) “Writer at Work” Faces His Audience

The next essay I am going to publish here will mark another anniversary for this journal, it being the 250th entry. Instead of dancing around that less than monumental milestone, I’ll try to explain why I continue to keep writing and how I keep up with whatever I choose to write about—the ostensibly “out-of-date.”

Today, I’ll leave it to another writer to share his experience. That man is Hector Chevigny, historian, magazine writer, and playwright of over one thousand plays, most of them for radio. On this day, 12 October, in 1956, the CBS Radio Workshop invited listeners to eavesdrop on Chevigny in a piece titled “A Writer at Work.”

According to fellow radio playwright-historian Erik Barnouw, Chevigny began writing for radio in 1928. In 1936 and 1937 he was director of the CBS Script Division in Hollywood. His plays were heard on prestigious programs such as The Cavalcade of America and Arch Oboler’s Free World Theater. During the war, Chevigny contributed numerous scripts to propaganda series such as Treasury Salute. In the early 1950s, he took over as head writer for the daytime serial The Second Mrs. Burton (1946-60), an assignment that called for five scripts a week.

Since The Second Mrs. Burton took up much of Chevigny’s time, the Workshop chose to visit the writer at his Gramercy Park home in New York City and capture on tape how he planned and plotted one chapter of the serial (scripts for which can nowadays be found at New York City’s Public Library). On hand to introduce and interview the playwright was the actress then portraying Terry Burton, a fictional character so prominent that she at one time kept her own weekly radio column (as shown below). The equally prominent actress was radio stalwart Jan Miner (previously mentioned here).

However promising the premise, the resulting take-your-listeners-to-work broadcast makes radio’s soap factory sound even more dreary than any of its assembly line productions, considering that it involves listening to a weary and frazzled Chevigny struggling to come up with something “bright and cute” for an upcoming Thanksgiving-themed chapter in his serial.

Apparently, he churned out his scripts well in advance; but work on the Thanksgiving script was off to a slow start. “Oh, darn these Holiday scripts,” we hear Chevigny grumble. In keeping with the expectations of producers and sponsors, the Burton family was scheduled to spend the day on the verge of a tryptophan-induced stupor; and the prospect of having to extract drama from drumsticks and dollops of mash was not a task a playwright could cherish. Among the dictated lines are literary pearls like “And are you ready for more turkey, Terry, dear?” and “Sound Effects: tableware as wanted.”

The tableware was not wanted; and to get the family away from their plates, Chevigny ultimately decides upon a dream sequence in which Mr. Burton finds himself celebrating Thanksgiving anno 1656, a scene played out with cartoonish sound effects and a clash of Colonial and contemporary Englishes.

What listeners do not get to hear, however, is the story behind the noise and spoken words: the story of a writer who lost his eyesight. This would have been on opportunity for the Workshop to explore how becoming sightless, as Chevigny did in 1943, changes a writer’s attitude toward and influenced his approach to working in a non-visual medium. Did this alleged deficiency help Chevigny – the author of an autobiography titled My Eyes Have a Cold Nose (1946) – to develop a keener ear for radio dramatics? “Understandably,” Chevigny wrote in that book, published a decade prior to the Workshop broadcast, “the subject of the perceptions of the blind is one of particular interest to me as a writer specialising in radio.” Chevigny recalled the early days of radio, still being sighted at the time,

when the broadcast play was just coming into being.  I remember well the arguments we used to have as to the best methods of trying to tell a story on the air and how carefully we listened to the pioneer attempts of the British Broadcasting Company and the American networks to achieve a technology.

Little of that experimentation was still being conducted after the end of the Second World War. And the Workshop, despite its title, did little to build on its roots in the mid-1930s, when the series was deserving of the term “workshop.”

Was staying on at a time when most writers of note had abandoned the medium a matter of sticking to what he knew, even though he knew and experienced radio differently back then? Was blindness at the heart of Chevigny’s radio fidelity? After all, The Second Mrs. Burton was the last radio serial to leave the airwaves.