XM Satellite Radio today announced that XM and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will introduce a national radio series called “The Big Read,” named after the NEA’s national reading program, which celebrates great books and their place in American life.
Every weekday, the show will air audio recordings of classic novels in 30-minute installments, plus NEA-produced programs about each book, featuring interviews, commentary, and readings by actors, authors and other celebrated personalities: Mary Louise Parker, Robert Duvall, Colin Powell, Sandra Day O’Connor, Garrison Keillor, Cheech Marin, Alice Walker, Edward Albee, Amy Tan, Tony Hillerman, and many others.
“The Big Read” will premiere nationwide September 10 on Sonic Theater (XM Channel 163), the channel dedicated to books and contemporary drama. The first book in the series will be Ray Bradbury’s science-fiction novella Fahrenheit 451. Content for the series will be produced by XM, the NEA, and Audible, the leading digital provider of audio books and other spoken-word entertainment.
The NEA first launched The Big Read in 2006 as a national initiative to encourage communities to come together to read and discuss one book. Local organizations receive grants to host community-based programs devoted to a single book, such as The Great Gatsby.
The radio show seeks to build on the success of the NEA’s reading program and expand it to a national radio audience. XM has more than 8.2 million subscribers nationwide.
“The Big Read initiative is making a profound difference in communities across the country, encouraging people to embrace the pleasure of books,” said Josephine Reed, program director for Sonic Theater. “This new radio show fulfills a long-held goal of mine: to bring different communities across the country together to listen to, think about, and discuss literature. I’m thrilled to be working with NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, as well as our partners at Audible, to bring these great books to XM listeners nationwide.”
At the end of each novel, Reed will host a discussion about the book with authors, teachers, and other book lovers.
“The launch of the Big Read on XM Satellite Radio is a major literary event. Creating a daily, national, drive-time show devoted to presenting and discussing great American novels is just what we need to revitalize reading in America,” said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. “This is the perfect marriage of technology and literature to increase the appeal of both. Our partnership with XM Satellite Radio has helped make the largest literary program in American history even bigger.”
Each new installment of the “Big Read” radio show on XM will air three times a day, Monday through Friday, on Sonic Theater at 2:30 am, 10:30 am, and 4:30 pm (all times ET) starting September 10 with Fahrenheit 451.
Future installments of the “Big Read” radio show will be devoted to Willa Cather’s My Antonia, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.