There are a few times that radio turns away from the silliness of comedies like Amos 'n' Andy and Fibber McGee and Molly, from the thrills of Inner Sanctum Mysteries and Suspense, and the commercialism of Rudy Vallee's variety shows and the sponsor driven comedies of Jack Benny.
There are times when network radio goes absolutely high-brow. One fine example is the WNBC series Anthology. Unlike the novels presented for the NBC University of the Air, which were presented academically, the poetry on Anthology largely stood on it on its own entertainment value. The poetry did benefit from being presented with appropriate classical music and read by some of the great radio and stage voices of the New York Area.
The program was presented by the Poetry Center of the 92nd Street YMHA. Recordings include star-packed casts with poetry readings by Bing Crosby, Helen Hayes, Frank Lovejoy, Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt, Orson Welles, Agnes Moorehead, Walter Huston, and many more. The series was usually hosted by Harry Fleetwood, host of WNBC's Music Through the Night. This classical music program developed from a request from Civil Defense Authorities in 1952. The request was that WNBC play a radio tone through the night so that immediate public announcements could be readily broadcast. The station instead choose to broadcast classical music, and found Fleetwood to be a popular host. (The show is still heard in different forms on several NPR stations across the nation.)
Commentator Charles Osgood discribed Fleetwood's appeal as being based on his being "so wonderfully civilized". Fleetwood brings this civility to Anthology.
For more poetry, see also Moon River, Words with Music, and Sammy Kaye Sunday Serenade.