The Open Mind

Air date: 06/27/2015

The Open Mind Hosted by Alexander Heffner Launches New Season


Revitalized broadcast premieres Saturday, June 27 at 12 p.m.


The Open Mind premieres its 2015-2016 season Saturday, June 27 at 12 p.m. on THIRTEEN – marking the occasion with a revitalized introduction that pays homage to its legacy as the longest-running program in public television history and renews its commitment to contemporary areas of public concern, particularly those at the intersection of human values and society.

The premiere marks the one-year anniversary of being hosted by Alexander Heffner, the youngest moderator of a weekly public affairs show on television. The Open Mind explores the ideas of the most innovative journalists, historians, elected officials and practitioners of law, policy and many other realms of American life. Entering its 60th year on the air, the program was founded by Richard D. Heffner who hosted the show until his death in December of 2013.

With a newly expanded distribution platform through NETA (National Educational Telecommunications Association), The Open Mind is broadening its reach to make the program available to public television stations across the country as well as streaming weekly at The program aims to fuse its traditional over-the-air viewership with the emerging digital demographic.

The season’s premiere episode will feature a conversation with The Reverend John I. Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame and Member of the Commission on Presidential Debates, about moral education – and the cure for incivility in an age of entrenched partisanship.

Says Heffner, “We’re working to discover a new generation of thinkers as well as to engage known leaders on issues of national concern. Each week we want to build on the civic consciousness and engagement within our communities. As we anticipate our 60th anniversary in 2016, the nonadversarial approach we take keeps us focused on the important ideas of concerns.”

Upcoming line-up of guests include Associated Press CEO and President Gary Pruitt on safeguarding journalists as the “eyewitnesses to history,” Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse Carolyn Lukensmeyer on reducing the impact of government dysfunction on the nation’s mental health, iCivics Executive Director Louise Dubé on reinvigorating civics education, and Elizabeth Spayd, Editor-In-Chief and Publisher of Columbia Journalism Review and former managing editor of The Washington Post, on innovating in journalism and technology.

Over the past broadcast season, guests included former Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist, 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Pulitzer Prize Board chair Danielle Allen, ACLU president Susan Herman, Wesleyan University president Michael Roth, Twitter cofounder Biz Stone, Firefox executive Mitchell Baker, The Daily Show comedian Aasif Mandvi and musician Aloe Blacc.

During primary campaign, Heffner will be the Fitzwater Fellow at Franklin Pierce University. He has lectured over the past year at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Drake University, the  Eugene J. McCarthy Center at St. John’s University, the Quello Center for Telecommunication Management and Law at Michigan State University, the Communication and Journalism Department at University of New Mexico, the Journalism Department at Stanford University, the Departments of Communication and Political Science at Santa Clara University and the College of International Communication at Lynn University.

The Open Mind is a production of Richard Heffner Associates. WNET is the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York’s public television stations and operator of NJTV.

Elaine Heffner is Executive Producer. Rebecca Wharton is Senior Producer.

Continuing production of The Open Mind has been made possible by grants from Anne Ulnick Gumowitz, Angelson Family Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Joan Ganz Cooney & Peter G Peterson Fund, Rosalind P. Walter Foundation, Joann and Kenneth Wellner Foundation, Sally Minard and Norton Garfinkle, Schumann Media Center and Mutual of America.




About WNET

As New York’s flagship public media provider and the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore iPad App where users can stream PBS content for free.



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