The Open Mind (TV series)

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The Open Mind
Genre Talk show
Created by Richard Heffner
Country of origin  United States
Running time 30 minutes
Original run May 1956 – present

The Open Mind is a long-running half-hour public affairs interview show. First broadcast in May 1956 over WRCA television (now WNBC) in New York City, it currently originates from CUNY TV studios at CUNY Graduate Center and airs on public broadcasting stations nationwide. Its creator, Richard Heffner, has been the host from its inception, except for several years in the 1960s when it was hosted by Princeton University historian Eric F. Goldman, till his death on December 17, 2013 [1]). It is currently distributed by American Public Television./


In 2006, the program celebrated its 50th anniversary with rebroadcasts of vintage interviews with Richard Helms, Fred Friendly, Lewis Thomas, and others. For the occasion, Heffner also presented two new programs that featured him as a guest. In the first, he was interviewed for a regular half-hour segment by Bill Moyers. The second was a special one-hour show hosted by William F. Baker, current president of PBS stations WLIW and WNET.

The program's title comes from the saying, attributed to Barnard College dean Virginia Gildersleeve among others, "Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out." However, during the hour-long interview with Baker, Heffner credited the title to J. Robert Oppenheimer, noting that he (Heffner) regretted never having interviewed the noted physicist. The theme music, "World Without Time," is by the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra from their LP Adventures in Time. Heffner himself chose the theme from the NBC music library.

The Open Mind is one of the few first-run shows to be seen in commercial and public television at the same time. During the 1970s and 1980s, new episodes aired on commercial WPIX, which was the show's production base, as well as WNET.

The Open Mind is currently involved in a project to digitize its entire archive of over 1400 episodes. The Open Mind Online Digital Archive now provides multiple video formats of all episodes, time coded transcripts, and advanced search tools. Archive materials are provided to the public at no cost. The archive can currently be viewed and accessed at Most programs are also available to view and download at the Internet Archive.

In 2014, Alexander Heffner, Richard Heffner's grandson, took over as the program's host.


Hundreds of guests have appeared on the show, including many prominent intellectuals (Max Lerner, Allen Bloom, Gilbert Seldes, Sidney Hook, William F. Buckley), humanists (Erich Fromm, Elie Wiesel, Norman Cousins), physicians and therapists (Ruth Westheimer, R.D. Laing, Peter D. Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac), politicians (Herman Badillo, Ed Koch, Mario Cuomo, Daniel Patrick Moynihan), jurists (Stephen Breyer, Judith Kaye, Thurgood Marshall, Richard Posner, Sol Wachtler), educators (John Brademas, Derek Bok, Michael Sovern, Vartan Gregorian, John Sexton), civil rights leaders (Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, James L. Farmer, Jr.), authors (Norman Mailer, Betty Friedan, Isaac Asimov), economists (Paul Krugman, Alan Greenspan, Milton Friedman), and entertainers (Steve Allen, Eli Wallach, Robert Redford).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Richard Heffner, Historian, Teacher, Pioneer of Public Television, is Dead at 88

External links[edit]