On Friday, KCRW will replay a 1991 radio adaptation of Vince Waldron’s AMERICAN SPLENDOR stage play, starring Dan (Homer Simpson) Castellaneta. The original stage play (which we saw in person) was a wonderful adaptation of the late Harvey Pekar’s work, and this version has a lot of the same charms. The play will be available ONLY on air and by live stream and will not be available for download, so set those tape recorders.

On December 6th, 1991, public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica (89.9 FM; www.KCRW.com) broadcast an original radio production of Harvey Pekar’s “American Splendor.”
To honor Pekar’s memory, KCRW will reprise the radio production on Friday, July 16 from 7:30 to 8 pm (pre-empting “Says You,” the regularly scheduled program).
Pekar, who died this week at the age of 70, was a cult phenomenon and considered Cleveland’s favorite dark, dysfunctional and curmudgeonly son. “American Splendor” was one of his most popular autobiographical comics, and the one that brought him to the attention of Hollywood.
In 1990, “American Splendor” was adapted for stage, written and directed by Vince Waldron, and featured Dan Castellaneta—the voiceover actor now best known as the voice of Homer Simpson—as Harvey Pekar. The Instant Theatre Production opened at Jeff Murray’s Theatre/Theater in Hollywood on September 29, 1990 and closed September 28, 1991.
Waldron then adapted the stage production for radio station KCRW, and once again, Castellaneta came to embody Pekar in this original half-hour production. The station’s producers were Jacqueline des Lauriers and Bob Carlson.
In 2003, “American Splendor” was made into a film starring Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis, which was later nominated for an Oscar in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.

This broadcast will appear on air and via KCRW.com live stream ONLY, and will not be available on demand or via podcast.


  1. Seeing that this is my medium for comic adaptations, I am really curious/excited to hear this. I didn’t even know it existed! Kudos to KCRW to re-airing it.

    Lance Roger Axt
    The AudioComics Company

  2. I saw this back in the day, too, with the original cast, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Somehow, though, I missed the radio production–although at only half an hour long, that may not have been too hard.

    It looks like KCRW has rewritten the announcement: “This broadcast, which pre-empts the regularly scheduled Says You, will appear on air only and will not be available online or via podcast.” So if you’re not in LA (which I no longer am), you’re out of luck?

  3. @ Doug Tonks: Not at all. You can hear it on the live stream through the station website at 7:30pm CA time. You just can’t download it.

    Lance Roger Axt
    The AudioComics Company

  4. I know linking in the comments is a little tacky, but I wanted to share this great Plain Dealer article from right when Harvey was starting out — along with the cartoon that ran with it that nicely, maybe sadly, sums up his work.
    Really interesting to hear him as his career was starting to take.