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Nahum Stutchkoff
1 Introduction
2 Stutchkoff's Dramas
3 A Life Devoted to Language
4 Stutchkoff's Commercials
NPR Documentary
The Radio Dramas of Nahum Stutchkoff, the documentary about the life and work of Yiddish radio's great dramatist. (22:17 min.)

Excerpts from Stutchkoff's radio scrap book  

"Bella's Secret," an episode of Round the Family Table

What was Tsuris bay Laytn? Isaiah Sheffer explains

A listener remembers Tsuris bay Laytn  

Stutchkoff's Dramas

Sundays at noon in the late '30s and early '40s, Bei Tate-mames Tish (Round the Family Table) aired on WEVD in New York City. Each week listeners were brought into the home of a Jewish family coping with the problems of immigrant life.

While most dramas on the American radio dial offered escapist fantasies, Stutchkoff's creations writhed with actuality. His characters were hewn from the stuff of real life, facing difficulties their listeners knew well: the alienation of the older generation, racism within the Jewish community, miscegenation, the conflicts between secular America and Jewish religiousness.

Though a private man who worked in extreme seclusion, Stutchkoff felt bound to the community that was the source of his artistic inspiration.  His wife and children often found him crying at his writing desk over the fate of the radio characters he had just created. If he did not weep over them, he asked, who would?

The 26 Bei Tate-mames Tish episodes salvaged by the Yiddish Radio Project are the only of Stutchkoff's half-dozen radio series to have survived. Not a single broadcast remains of Tsuris bay Laytn (People's Troubles), Stutchkoff's most popular show, which ran on WEVD for two decades and helped raise donations for the Brooklyn Jewish Home for Chronic Diseases. But one child actor on the program --  Isaiah Sheffer, host of WNYC's Selected Shorts and the artistic director of New York City's Symphony Space -- remembers it well.

"It was totally frantic," Sheffer recalls. "Everything was last-minute and done quickly, with all the actors learning their parts along with Stutchkoff." The writer-director often passed freshly penned lines of script to actors at the mike, a situation par for the course in the radio universe of Nahum Stutchkoff.

Next Page: A Life Devoted to Language »


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