Joe McHugh was the founding director of the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia. Joe and Paula McHugh started working in education by telling stories and playing traditional music for students as assembly programs in schools. In 1990 while directing a summer program for young people called Camp Imagination, they had an idea. Could radio drama be used in the classroom to enhance learning and nourish the imagination? After months of researching how to write radio plays and make sound effects, they set forth with an FM radio transmitter visiting schools throughout the U.S. "At each school we would set up our transmitter and broadcast a group of students performing a "live" radio play that other students and teachers would listen to on portable radios in their classrooms. It was an exciting time and we learned a great deal about how to make radio drama a successful learning experience for all concerned." said Joe McHugh.


Joe and Paula McHugh

and the  

Raven Radio Theater

Performed and filmed by 7th grade students in 1995

with narration by their school secretary, Ready Springs, California

In 1996 they received major funding from the California Department of Education to develop a radio drama curriculum focusing on the dangers of tobacco-use. They combined a professionally recorded play called Visitor from the Past with a follow-up script called Talkin' Tobacco that the students could perform and record themselves. It included an innovative teacher's guide with activities and discussion topics, selected readings, and information about the tobacco industry. We also included a special radio decoder for use when figuring out the secret messages. For two years after the launch of the curriculum they traveled around California conducting in-service workshops for teachers on strategies for preventing tobacco-use and how to use radio dramas with students to make learning fun and effective.

They also received a major grant from the United States Justice Department, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, to design, produce, and distribute an innovative law-related education curriculum using radio drama. After extensive research on lesser-known and yet remarkable citizen heroes, we again combined professionally recorded radio plays with do-it-yourself scripts that could be performed by students in the classroom. These scipts are available on our scripts page.

Besides working with teachers and students, Joe and Paula McHugh have directed numerous radio plays for conferences and organizations. Furthermore these presentations were unique in that they were performed by conference participants with as little as one hour of rehearsal and were warmly and enthusiastically received.

Here are some websites with the McHughs Books, Art and Radio Podcasts:

Books and CDs by Joe McHugh Illustrated by Paula McHugh


Keynotes and Workshops on Storytelling and other Topics


Art Inspired by the titles of Fiddle Tunes and Folksongs


Theatrical Performance combining Music, Storytelling, and Art


Podcast about the Fascinating World of the Violin Family