Unlike Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen, who wrote their songs with numerous collaborative lyricists, and not at all like Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, who preferred doing it all themselves, writing both the music and the words, Richard Rodgers was most comfortable, and most successful, when in partnership with another. Over the course of his long and storied career in musical theater and beyond, Rodgers enjoyed two important partnerships.

American musical theater is not all fluff with no bite. In fact, the 1930s saw a maturity coming to the genre. George Gershwin and George Kaufman brought biting satire to the musical stage with "Of Thee I Sing." This, in turn, opened the gates for other socially informed shows, such as Harold Rome's "Pins and Needles," a show produced off and on Broadway by members of The Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.

The current reprise of "The Art of American Popular Song" on KPAC, KTXI, and online at TPR.ORG is presented as a parallel to the current exhibition at the McNay Art Museum's Brown Gallery - "Broadway: 100 Years of Musical Theatre." This "video prelude," in three parts, focuses on intersections of the radio series and the McNay exhibit. The three short videos, preludes to The Art of Cole Porter,  spotlight artwork by Joseph Urban, Don Jensen, Rouben TerArutunian, and Martin Pakledinaz, all hanging at the McNay's Brown Gallery through June 18.

Gift of Robert L. B. Tobin TL1999.89 / The McNay

Remember the kid in elementary school, maybe junior high (I'm showing my age), who always sat in class drawing pictures? I recall those people and how I wondered what in the world they were going to do with their lives. Sure, I wished I could draw like they did, but I always knew that if I were to make anything of myself I needed to pay attention in class and do my assignments.

James Baker

The ongoing radio series, "The Art of American Popular Song," is now into week two, with "The Art of Irving Berlin." The series will continue over the weeks ahead, through June 11, with shows devoted to Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Harold Arlen, and others.