NBC University Theater (also known as NBC University Theater of the Air, NBC Theater of the Air or NBC Theater) was a radio series
directed by Homer Heck that presented adaptations of classic novels. The show was born The World's Great Novels on WMAQ, Chicago, and NBC from 1944 to 1948, and
adopted its better known name when it relocated to Hollywood in July 1948.
It initially aired Saturdays at 7:00 pm CST during the first 1944-45 season and then moved to Fridays at 11:30 pm. Music for the series was composed by Emil Soderstrom
and conducted by Bernard Berquist.
The Chicago-based programs were a production of The NBC University of the Air. Through agreements with the University of Louisville, the University of Tulsa, Kansas
State Teachers College, and Washington State College, listeners could receive college credit through accredited, radio-assisted literature correspondence courses. A
study guide, The Handbook of the World's Great Novels, was available for 25 cents.
The series began October 28, 1944, with Henry Fielding's Tom Jones, followed by Voltaire's Candide and Jane Austen's Emma. Over the next four years, it aired adaptations
of such novels as Kidnapped, The Last of the Mohicans, Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge, Moby-Dick, A Tale of Two Cities and War and Peace. Since this was a
half-hour program, many of the novels were serialized in multi-part adaptations of two to six 30-minute episodes.