The Open Mind (TV series)

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The Open Mind
The Open Mind logo
The Open Mind logo
Genre Interview
Created by Richard Heffner
Presented by Alexander Heffner
Country of origin United States
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) The Open Mind Legacy Project
Distributor National Educational Telecommunications Association[1]
Original release May 1956 – present
External links

The Open Mind is a nationally broadcast public affairs interview program, the longest-running in the history of American public television. First broadcast in May 1956, this "thoughtful excursion into the world of ideas" across politics, media, technology, the arts and realms of civic life currently originates from CUNY TV Studios and airs on PBS stations. Its creator, Richard Heffner, was host until his death on December 17, 2013.[2] In 2014, Alexander Heffner, Richard Heffner's grandson, took over as the program's host renewing its commitment to civil discourse for the new generation.[3]


The Open Mind was conceived to elicit meaningful insights into the challenges that society faces in contemporary areas of public concern. The program's title is attributed to a quote of Barnard College dean Virginia Gildersleeve, "Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out."[4] The theme music chosen by Heffner, "World Without Time," is by the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra from their LP Adventures in Time. Recent guests have included Bill Frist, Bernie Sanders, Gary B. Pruitt, John I. Jenkins, Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Mitchell Baker, Biz Stone, Sue Gardner, Aloe Blacc and Aasif Mandvi. The fall 2015 line-up featured James Patterson, Mitch Daniels, Salman Rushdie, Jonathan Sacks, Maria Freire, Naomi Oreskes, Maya Soetoro-Ng, Guy Davis, J.B. Smoove and Jill Soloway.[5] In May 2016, the program entered its 60th season.[6]


Hundreds of guests have appeared on the program, including many prominent civil rights leaders (Martin Luther King, Gloria Steinem, Malcolm X, James L. Farmer, Jr.), politicians (Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Richard Lugar, Dianne Feinstein), jurists (Thurgood Marshall, Stephen Breyer, Judith Kaye), educators (Derek Bok, Michael S. Roth, John Palfrey), authors (Erich Fromm, Elie Wiesel, Norman Mailer), intellectuals (William F. Buckley, John Hope Franklin, Neil Postman), economists (Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, Paul Krugman), physicians (Jonas Salk, Ruth Westheimer, Tom Frieden), entertainers (Eli Wallach, Steve Allen, Robert Redford).[7]

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