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National Audio Theatre Festivals Honors Three in 2022

Individuals being recognized for excellence in audio contributions

This year, three individuals will be recognized by National Audio Theatre Festivals Inc. (NATF) for their efforts in promoting audio excellence in America.

This year the Norman Corwin Award is being presented to a prolific audio pioneer who has worked as a writer, director, producer and engineer for decades. The NATF will also posthumously recognize two individuals with the Norman Corwin Legacy Award — one, a doctor of philosophy; the other an innovator and mentor — for their unique contributions to the audio artform.

Norman Corwin

The NATF established the Norman Corwin Award for Excellence in Audio Theatre in 2010 to recognize the life and work of audio pioneer Norman Corwin. This year, the Norman Corwin Award winner is bestowed on Fred Greenhalgh, an audio pioneer. 

The NATF also bestows the Legacy Awards posthumously on individuals who have advanced the art of audio and audio theater. This year, two Legacy Awards will be handed out: one to Dr. Linda Lopez McAlister, another to Jeff Kraus.

Fred Greenhalgh

An audio innovator and inventor, Fred Greenhalgh is the youngest-ever winner of this national award. Recently named head of audio production at the audio entertainment company Realm, Greenhalgh is overseeing the company’s scripted audio fiction production department. He is also the founder and original host of Radio Drama Revival on WMPG(FM), a long-running modern audio drama program.

Bringing his indie-film background to the world of movies for the mind, as the NATF called it, Greenhalgh created the original series “The Cleansed,” using innovative location-recording techniques. This led to Greenhalgh’s partnership with Corwin Legacy Award honoree Bill Dufris and the creation of a nearly 14-hour-long audio program called “Locke and Key.” He also collaborated on programs like “The X-Files: Cold Cases” and “The X-Files: Stolen Lives” and served as the sound designer for award-winning programs like “If I Go Missing the Witches Did It” and “Roanoke Falls.” Greenhalgh has spent many years serving as an advocate for audio theater, such as the creation a free online course that teaches newcomers audio theater techniques

As a 2022 Legacy Award recipient, Dr. Linda Lopez McAlister (1939-2021) earned a doctorate in philosophy from Cornell University and went on to help establish the International Association of Women Philosophers as well as the publication “Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy.” She served as chair of the philosophy department at the University of South Florida as well as dean of the Fort Meyers, Fla., campus. 

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Dr. McAlister moved to New Mexico after retiring in 1999 where she began the second phase of her audio journey: focusing on and producing audio theater works. She founded Camino Real Productions in association with the National Hispanic Cultural Center and began producing live stage plays and radio theater works for public radio station KUNM(FM). Her stage productions made her well known in the Albuquerque theater scene, but it was her accomplishments in radio theater that carried her work to a national audience, the NATF said.

According to the NATF, it was a combination of meticulous attention to detail and first-rate audio production values that led Dr. McAlister to delve into audio engineering as well as directing and producing. Her work was threaded with wisdom engendered by her lifelong study of philosophy, women’s issues, her Hispanic heritage as well as her support for local writers and actors, the organization said.  

“Dr. McAlister’s love of audio theater and her use of the artform to inspire listeners to think and grow is very much in the tradition of Norman Corwin,” said the NATF in an announcement.

The NATF also recognized the contributions of Jeffrey C. Kraus (1939-1993), who was being honored for his contributions to broadcast journalism and the art of American audio theater. Despite his untimely passing at the age of 53, Kraus reached a myriad of milestones including graduating from Hofstra University in New York before becoming a faculty member at the school around the same time that the school received its first broadcast license — first known as WVHC(FM) and then WRHU(FM) in 1983.

Kraus served as general manager of the school’s student radio station for more than 30 years, inspiring many students to go on to successful broadcasting careers. Alumni that benefited from Kraus’ tutelage included Dan Ingram, a DJ on WABC(AM) in New York, and Dick Maitland, the Emmy Award-winning sound designer for the Children’s Television Workshop. 

Under Kraus’ leadership, the station and Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication grew into a nationally recognized institution that helped kick start the careers of individuals such as Garry Armstrong, a three-time Emmy Award-winning reporter for ABC Network Radio, and Steven Epstein, a Grammy Award-winning senior executive producer at Sony Classical.

Even though he was a highly effective teacher of broadcast journalism, the NATF said in a statement, the art of audio theatre was Kraus’ lifelong passion. After attending the Midwest Radio Theatre Workshop (NATF’s predecessor organization) in 1995, he turned his sights to sharing key audio storytelling techniques with his students as well as writing, directing and producing many radio plays of his own. 

The awards are announced each year on May 3, which was Corwin’s birthday, and will be presented to the recipients in June as part of the HEAR Now Festival. 

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology and a long-time contributor to Radio World. She has served as editor-in-chief of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as broadcasting, education, chess, music, sports and the connected home environment.