But Corwin was eager to get back into radio. A fan of what became WQXR, an independent New York radio station that specialized in classical music, news and arts commentary, he proposed doing a poetry show.
His weekly "Poetic License" series, for which he presented a wide range of poetry read by himself, actors and sometimes the poets themselves — and punctuated by music and sound effects when appropriate — drew considerable fan mail.
The program also caught the attention of CBS, which hired Corwin in April 1938 as a director of dramatic programs, including the innovative and prestigious "Columbia Workshop."
Within six months, CBS agreed to let Corwin produce and write his own Sunday afternoon poetry series, "Norman Corwin's Words Without Music," in which he dramatized the poetry of Swift, Longfellow and other poets while retaining most of the original lines.
Dubbed "visualized poetry" by CBS, the program debuted on Dec. 4, 1938, to immediate acclaim.
Faced with a Christmas Day broadcast, Corwin wrote his first network original: a verse drama, in rhyming couplets, "The Plot to Overthrow Christmas."
In it, an assortment of villains, including Nero, Ivan the Terrible, Simon Legree and Lucretia Borgia, meet in hell to plot with the Devil (played by Will Geer) to do away with Santa Claus.
But another program that Corwin wrote two months later had even more impact and proved to be a turning point in his career.
Enraged by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's aviator son Vittorio's unfeeling description of blowing up a group of Ethiopian cavalrymen during a bombing run as looking "like a budding rose unfolding," Corwin wrote the anti-Fascist radio drama "They Fly Through the Air With the Greatest of Ease," about an uncaring bomber crew that destroys homes and strafes fleeing civilians.
Time magazine deemed it Corwin's "bid for a front-row seat among radio poets."
In time, Corwin would try "all forms of writing — whimsy, fantasy, historical drama, poetic narrative, propaganda, satire, science essay, burlesque, parody," wrote R. LeRoy Bannerman in his 1986 book "On a Note of Triumph: Norman Corwin and the Golden Years of Radio."
"Critics," Bannerman wrote, "saw in Corwin a fresh, new influence: an independent whose concept of broadcasting dared to be different. They saw in his work a literacy uncommon in the communicative arts."
After the United States went to war, Corwin directed 12 — and wrote six — segments of the 13-part, government-sponsored dramatic series "This Is War!," which was designed to inform and inspire the nation and which was broadcast on all four major networks.
Corwin followed that with "An American In England," a 1942 series for American listeners in which he dramatized his impressions of war-torn Britain and its people via short wave.
After the war, Corwin launched a four-month fact-finding journey in which he recorded the thoughts of people from all walks of life, including heads of state, generals, farmers, waiters, artists and scientists on the status of mankind.
The journey, subsidized by the first-ever Wendell Willkie Memorial Award, became a radio series called "One World Flight," which he wrote, produced, directed and narrated for CBS.
In 1947, as the House Committee on Un-American Activities probed communist influence in the film industry, Corwin joined other Hollywood notables in organizing resistance to what they viewed as a threat to free expression.
Using radio as its platform, the Committee for the First Amendment sponsored a 30-minute program that aired on the ABC network in October 1947.
"Hollywood Fights Back," which Corwin co-wrote and co-directed, featured an array of famous Hollywood names such as Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland and Danny Kaye, who expressed their fears of where the congressional investigation might lead.
"Who comes after us?" actor Fredric March read from the script. "Is it your minister who will be told what he can say in his pulpit? Is it your children's school teacher who will be told what she can say in a classroom? Who are they after? They are after more than Hollywood. This reaches into every American city."
Corwin moved to Los Angeles permanently in 1948 — the year after he married Broadway actress Katherine Locke — and initially worked primarily as a radio dramatist and screenwriter.
He received an Academy Award nomination in 1957 for his adaptation of Irving Stone's biography of artist Vincent Van Gogh, "Lust for Life," starring Kirk Douglas.
He wrote occasionally for television and the theater — as well as writing books, poems, essays and a column for Westways magazine, "Corwin on Media."
For many years, he served as an adjunct professor in the USC School of Journalism and continued to teach until his 100th birthday.
In 2006, a short documentary on Corwin, "A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin," won an Academy Award.
Corwin, who outlived most of his colleagues and contemporaries, had longevity in his genes. His British immigrant father, Sam, a printer and inveterate reader whose love of the printed word inspired his son, died in 1987 — at 110.
Corwin, whose wife died in 1995, is survived by two children, Diane and Anthony.