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
Original release May 1956 – Present

The Open Mind is a long-running weekly half-hour public affairs interview program conceived as a thoughtful excursion into the world of ideas, non-adversarial conversation of public concern. First broadcast in May 1956 on WRCA-TV (now WNBC) in New York City, it currently originates from CUNY TV Studios and airs on PBS THIRTEEN/WNET. Creator Richard Heffner was host until his death on December 17, 2013.[1] In 2014, Alexander Heffner, Richard Heffner's grandson, took over as the program's host.[2]


The Open Mind as a weekly public affairs program was conceived to elicit meaningful insights into the challenges that society faces in contemporary areas of public concern. 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."[3] The theme music chosen by Heffner, "World Without Time," is by the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra from their LP Adventures in Time. In 2006, the program celebrated its 50th anniversary with rebroadcasts of vintage interviews with Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard Helms and Fred Friendly.[4] Recent guests have included John Palfrey, Michael S. Roth, Annette Gordon-Reed, Mitchell Baker, and Aloe Blacc. The 2015 line-up features Bill Bradley, Bill Frist, Neal Katyal, Lan Samantha Chang, and Aasif Mandvi.[5]


Hundreds of guests have appeared on the program, including many prominent intellectuals (William F. Buckley, Sidney Hook, Marshall Meyer), physicians/therapists (Jonas Salk, Paul Nurse, Ruth Westheimer), politicians (Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Mario Cuomo, Ed Koch), jurists (Thurgood Marshall, Stephen Breyer, Judith Kaye), educators (Derek Bok, John Brademas, Vartan Gregorian), civil rights leaders (Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, James L. Farmer, Jr.), authors (Elie Wiesel, Erich Fromm, Norman Mailer), economists (Paul Krugman, Alan Greenspan, Milton Friedman), and entertainers (Robert Redford, Eli Wallach, Steve Allen).[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Richard Heffner, Historian, Teacher, Pioneer of Public Television, is Dead at 88, Rutgers University
  2. ^ 'Open Mind' Host Continues Grandfather’s Vision for New Generation, The New York Times
  3. ^ The Closing of the American Mind
  4. ^ The Open Mind of Richard Heffner, Columbia College Today
  5. ^ Open Mind's verified Facebook page
  6. ^ Official Website, Archive

External links[edit]