New Letters on the Air

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Listening to New Letters on the Air is like eavesdropping on intimate conversations with favorite writers who reveal secrets about their creative methods, read a few favorite passages, and inspire the listener's imagination.

NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR is a weekly half-hour show that has been entertaining and informing audiences about contemporary writers and literature since 1977. Each week, the program focuses on a writer of poetry, fiction or essays, either in an intimate interview or in a public reading before an audience. Post-produced with narrative and music, NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR gives insight into the creative writing process and the universal stories that writers tell.

Each show is self-contained and undated, except for the occasional holiday or theme related program. 30- and 60-second produced promos are provided weekly on the PRSS promo satellite feeds and on Content Depot. Written promos are posted weekly on the DACS along with the timings and cues. Other distribution methods are available.

Though educational, NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR is not pedantic, and the conversation is often filled with laughter as authors discuss and read from their books. Our archive programs contain many Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners, along with recipients of other major literary awards. Recent guests include poets Sherman Alexie, Naomi Shihab Nye, Billy Collins, and Alicia Ostriker; dramatists August Wilson, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Tony Kushner; essayists Meghan Daum, Susan Orlean, and David Sedaris; fiction writers Richard Russo, Jane Smiley, and Ha Jin. The program also features less-familiar but remarkable writers whose work and contributions are equally engaging.

"Most people have a creative streak, whether they're interested in writing or not," says Angela Elam, host of NEW LETTERS ON THE AIR. "I hope by exploring the writer's process and hearing work that captures the essence of our lives, the program will inspire listeners to do something creative in their own way."

Series

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5 Pieces

NOTE: ALL EPISODES CAN STAND ALONE; NO OBLIGATION TO RUN THE ENTIRE SERIES. This five-episode series of one-hour programs features 17 of the men and women who have served as United States Poet Laureates over the past four decades, from the late Howard Nemerov (1963-64) to Donald Hall (beginning 2006). These conversations and readings of poetry vary from humorous to heavy, but are always thought-provoking, and are perfect for National Poetry Month in April, though they can be used anytime.


Pieces

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In July 2022, Ada Limón, a Californian who transplanted herself to NYC and now lives in Kentucky, was named the 24th U.S. Poet Laureate to take ove...

  • Added: Jul 31, 2022
  • Length: 29:00
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Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate 2017-19, kicked off her poetry career with the 2002 Cave Canem Prize, awarded to exceptional manuscripts of firs...

Bought by WMUU-LP, XRAY.fm, and WJCU


  • Added: Jul 20, 2022
  • Length: 29:00
  • Purchases: 3
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E.L. Doctorow passed away in July 2015, but left behind twelve novels, three volumes of short fiction, and a stage drama, winning most of the major...

Bought by KAAD-LP, WNJR, and WCAI / WNAN Cape & Islands, Mass.


  • Added: Jul 12, 2022
  • Length: 29:00
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: Eleanor Wilner
THE AUGURS: WOMEN OF AN AGE is a special public poetry reading, featuring a group of women poets, all over the age of 60, sharing their work and vi...

Bought by WNJR and WMUU-LP


  • Added: Jul 02, 2022
  • Length: 29:00
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Leonard Pitts Jr.
Writer Leonard Pitts Jr. talks about race, family, and the process of writing his syndicated column which won him a Pulitzer Prize in 2004. Pitts a...

Bought by WJCU


  • Added: Jun 24, 2022
  • Length: 29:00
  • Purchases: 1
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In honor of LGBT Pride Month, we revisit this interview with Rigoberto Gonzalez, who won the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from Association of Le...

Bought by KRZA, WCPN, and WNJR


  • Added: Jun 16, 2022
  • Length: 29:00
  • Purchases: 3
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George Saunders, the renowned short story writer, talks about his debut novel, LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, winner of Britain's 2017 Man Booker Prize for ...

  • Added: Jun 07, 2022
  • Length: 29:00
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Lisa See discusses CHINA DOLLS, a novel that traces a decade of nightclub life for Asian Americans from 1938 to just after World War II. See reveal...

Bought by WNJR


  • Added: May 31, 2022
  • Length: 29:00
  • Purchases: 1
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Taiwanese-American poet, Shin Yu(Yee) Pai(Pie), reads from her seventh collection, ADAMANTINE, and her earlier work, SIGHTINGS, in which she not on...

Bought by WMUU-LP and WJCU


  • Added: May 19, 2022
  • Length: 29:00
  • Purchases: 2
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Beth Ann Fennelly, the Mississippi Poet Laureate 2016-21 discusses her roles as poet, teacher, mother and wife in creative partnership with novelis...

  • Added: May 14, 2022
  • Length: 29:00