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Library of Congress to Archive “Poe Theatre on the Air”

This old-time radio production, produced as a modern day podcast offering, honors the work of Edgar Allen Poe

Poe Theatre on the AirPoe fans, unite: The Library of Congress has informed The National Edgar Allan Poe Theatre that it will begin archiving all “Poe Theatre on the Air” podcast episodes both onsite at the library and through its website.

For nearly 18 months, “Poe Theatre on the Air” has been producing original radio drama adaptations of the works of Edgar Allan Poe on Baltimore National Public Radio affiliate WYPR(FM), as well as on and other streaming platforms.

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The announcement by the Library of Congress was welcome news to Alex Zavistovich, founder and artistic director of The National Edgar Allan Poe Theatre and a former editor of Radio World. “We’re very happy the Library of Congress has recognized the significance of what ‘Poe Theatre on the Air’ is doing,” he said. “The theatre sees itself as a preservationist organization, so to have the library preserve our own work speaks highly of the value of ‘Poe Theatre on the Air’ for future scholars, researchers and the general public.”

An official letter by the manager of the Library of Congress’ Podcast Preservation Project informed the Poe podcast team that it considered the podcast to be an important part of the cultural and historical record. “With your permission, the library would like to acquire the podcast, add it to library collections, preserve it, and provide public access to it, including online,” the letter said.

Audio files of the “Poe Theatre on the Air” episodes will be available to users of the Library of Congress’ collection through its proprietary audio file player. Offsite users can access “Poe Theatre on the Air” episodes through the library’s website. The programs will be discoverable to users searching the library’s online catalog, which would include a link to The National Edgar Allan Poe website as well.

Each episode of “Poe Theatre on the Air” guides listeners through a mental hospital, where every cell houses Poe protagonists waiting to thrill audiences with dramatic accounts of familiar stories, including “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Black Cat,” “The Cask of Amontillado” and the well-known “The Raven,” with musical underscore and sound effects to add suspense to the retellings. “The Raven,” one of Poe’s most well-loved tales, is a 1845 poem that tells of the anguish of a distraught lover who is plagued by a raven foretelling that his anguish will be distinguished “nevermore.”

It has been exciting to watch the group as they have honed their production skills and created some terrific podcast episodes, said LaFontaine E. Oliver, WYPR president and general manager. “We look forward to seeing the continued growth of this old time radio production in a modern day podcast offering.”