Richard Figge to Rekindle the Allure of Storytelling on the Radio
Emeritus Professor of German at The College of Wooster to begin Sunday night stories this week on WCWS Radio
WOOSTER, Ohio – Richard Figge still remembers how enchanting it was to listen to the radio as a child, lying on the living room floor in front of a big Philco radio in his parent’s home in St. Paul, Minn., alongside his brother and sister, mesmerized by such programs as Sky King, The Lone Ranger, and Baby Snooks. “I was a kid during the last great days of radio,” remembers Figge, the Gingrich Professor of German Emeritus at The College of Wooster. “There was just something about those disembodied voices on the radio and the images they conjured. They would speak, and we would paint pictures in our minds.”
Figge’s interest in such stories was nurtured by his mother, who would read to her children at home, and his elementary school principal, who would read stories to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders every day after lunch. In high school, Figge discovered Edgar Allan Poe, whom he described as “grand fun with a wonderful knack for getting young people excited about literature.” Later, as a student at Carleton College in Minnesota, Figge worked at the campus radio station voicing ads and doing humorous improvisational bits.
When he came to Wooster with wife Susan in 1974, he began to offer public readings throughout the school year. Students would gather around the fireplace in Douglass Residence Hall to hear stories about Halloween, Christmas, and other themes. An experienced actor, he also began doing a series of one-person plays, characterizing such notable figures as famed actor John Barrymore and legendary lawyer Clarence Darrow, with which he toured the country. In addition, he has done voiceovers and occasional pieces on WCPN Radio, the NPR affiliate in Cleveland.
Through it all, Figge has never lost his childhood fascination with radio, and so he has decided to reprise those glory days with a storytelling venture of his own. Beginning Sunday evening and continuing each week through mid-December, Figge will share short stories in a series titled, “For Reading Out Loud” at 9 p.m. on WCWS Radio (90.9 FM). The broadcasts can also be heard online and on the iHeart Radio Network.
“What I hope to do is recapture some of the magic of radio that I experienced as a child,” he says. “We are blessed to have so many great authors from America, England, France, Germany, Russia, and elsewhere, and I am excited to share their stories with our listeners.”
Figge is particularly interested in introducing a new generation to storytelling on the radio. “During my years at the College, I always reminded my students that in a few years, they would be parents, and that it would be very important for them to read to their children,” he says. “This program will give children of all ages a chance to experience what it is like to hear stories on the radio the way I did years ago.”
This Sunday, Figge will present two stories by James Thurber. The following week, he will share a tale by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Rounding out the schedule are selections by such writers as Werner Bergengruen, Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, and Ring Lardner.
If listeners have a story they would like to hear, Figge would welcome their input by e-mail.
Richard Figge's Readings available via the Woo91 Mixcloud Account:
- October 11: James Thurber, The Night the Bed Fell & The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
- October 18: Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Ghost in The Mill
- October 25: Ambrose Bierce, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
- November 1: Edgar Allan Poe, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar & The Cask of Amontillado
- November 8: Werner Bergengruen, The Sand Doctor
- November 15: Ring Lardner, Haircut
- November 22: Saki (H. H. Munro), The Storyteller Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger,The Schartz-Metterklume
- November 29: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper
- December 6: Eric A. Kimmel, Hershel and the Hannukah Goblins; Grace Paley, The Loudest Voice
- December 13: Wolfgang Borchert, Three Dark Magi; O. Henry, The Gift of the Magi; E.B. White, Remembrance is Sufficient
- December 20: Anatole France, Our Lady’s Juggler; Robert Benchley, A Good Old-Fashioned Christmas
- December 27: William Dean Howells, Christmas Every Day; James Thurber, Fables For Our time (The Little Girl and the Wolf, The Moth and the Star, The Very Proper Gander, The Unicorn in the Garden)
- January 3: Henry Van Dyke, The Other Wise Man
- January 10: James Herriot, All Creatures Great and Small and Every Living Thing
- January 17: Ring Lardner, Butch Minds the Baby
- January 24: Anatole France, Putois
- January 31: O. Henry, “A Service of Love,” Boccaccio, 9th Tale from the 5th Day, The Decameron
- February 6: Max Beerbohm, A. V. Laider