Premiered in May 1956, Open Mind was created and hosted by Richard D. Heffner, American historian, broadcaster, and University Professor of Communications and Public Policy at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Fifty years after its first broadcast, beginning June 21, 2014, Open Mind continued with a new host, Mr. Heffner’s grandson, Alexander Heffner. Open Mind as a weekly public affairs program was designed to elicit guests’ most meaningful insights into the challenges Americans face in a variety of contemporary areas of national concern.
As Open Mind’s new host, Alexander continues its mission to engage viewers, especially a generation of young Americans, through a thoughtful excursion into the world of ideas. In a recent New York Times story, he described his goal to “interrogate ideas” rather than guests furthering his grandfather’s “vision of communications and media serving the public interest.”
Always true to its roots of nonadversarial conversation, the program explores the ideas of the most compelling writers, technologists, artists, practitioners of law, policy and other realms of American life. Recent guests include education pioneer John Palfrey, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed and musician Aloe Blacc.
Open Mind conversations appear on-site (thirteen.org/openmind) immediately after their on-air broadcast. Available here as well are various other programs Mr. Heffner has produced and often hosted over the years and has now also donated to public broadcasting for non-commercial, educational and informational use. Through the unguarded immediacy of video recordings and text transcripts, this online archive offers the benefit of historical hindsight and insight into America’s near-term past.
Past guests have included Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel discussing a new anti-Semitism; historian/journalist Robert Caro analyzing biography as literature; Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis parsing a reality based health care system; famed television producer Norman Lear discussing how his iconic 70’s and 80’s television comedies — All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons and others — impacted upon American thought and behavior; Carnegie Corporation President Vartan Gregorian exploring our nation’s need to invest in higher education; senior statesman Mario Cuomo discussing “the words that make our history”; and British Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse on nurturing the scientific enterprise.
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