To help heal the wounds of WWII, this series chronicles Norman Corwin's four-month travels in 1947 and his recorded interviews of different peoples' perspective around the world.
Wendell Willkie ran for President of the United States in 1940 as a Republican. He was defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt. After the election he became a devoted internationalist and supporter of Roosevelt, campaigning against Isolationism and speaking out for FDR's Lend-Lease program. In late 1941, as Roosevelt's personal representative, Willkie travelled to Britain and the Middle East; the following year he travelled to the Soviet Union and China. In 1943 he published "One World", in which he recounted his world travels and urged America to accept some form of World Government after the war. The One World Award was later set up in by Willkie. The awardees, who would be selected for exemplifying the One World Ideal, would be awarded a grant for a world tour similar to the one taken by Willkie himself.
The first One World Award was given to Norman Corwin, considered the Poet Laureate of Radio. Of his many works, two that are considered most influential in his receiving the award are We Hold These Truths and On a Note of Triumph. We Hold These Truths was broadcast on Dec 15, 1941, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. Writing and preparation for the production had begun well before the previous weeks attack on Pearl Harbor, but the National crisis made the program even more poignant. Corwin wrote On a Note of Triumph as a morale booster to the men overseas. When news that the war in Europe reached him, he thought the program would be scrapped. President Truman insisted that the program was needed "now more than ever." On a Note of Triumphwas first broadcast on VE Day, May 8, 1945.
For the Willkie One World Award trip, Corwin flew from New York in June of 1946 with a recording engineer and 225 pounds of recording equipment. Four months, 42,000 miles, 16 countries, and more than 100 hours of recorder interviews were worked into 13 half hour broadcasts. The interviews, which were often conducted through on the spot interpreters, were worked in along with Corwin's commentary. "Prince and fellah, commissar and coolie, pundit and stevedore" all were interviewed and contributed to the effort. Access was granted to world leaders, and to widows who had lost most of their family to the war. A recurring theme would be apprehension of the things that could lead to another war, this time with atomic consequences.
As an important public service program as One World Flight was, as well as great radio programming, the newtork chose to air the program on Tuesday nights, opposite Bob Hope, a death-watch time slot.
See also: Corwin Collection.