1978 - Earplay
WPR’s Karl Schmidt had a lifelong passion for theater and radio. With the advent of television, radio drama had gone out of fashion by the early 1960s. However, in 1972 Schmidt and WPR received funding from the relatively new Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to launch a new radio series committed to drama, Earplay, with Schmidt as Project Director.
The series commissioned work from some of the biggest names in theater, including Edward Albee, Archibald MacLeish and several “up and comers,” including John Irving, Arthur Kopit and David Mamet. Mamet’s play, The Water Engine, was written for Earplay and starred a young William H. Macy, pictured, and featured an even younger John Cusak when it aired nationally in 1978.
The series was committed to creating original work that took advantage of cutting-edge stereo recording. John Madden, who went on to direct the radio adaptation of Star Wars for NPR and the films Shakespeare in Love, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and others – was a director and producer. Tom Voegeli, son of WPR Music Director Don Voegeli was a Managing Director on the series.