The American Forum of the Air

The American Forum of the Air

"The American Forum of the Air", hosted by Theodore Granik, was a public affairs panel discussion program, the first series of its kind on radio. It aired on the Mutual Broadcasting System and NBC from 1934 to 1956. Notable guests, such as journalist Dorothy Thompson, New York mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia and Senators Harry Truman and Robert Taft, discussed a wide range of topics, from the New Deal to fascism. The series won a Peabody Award in 1940.

The program's origins can be traced back to 1928 when Granik was a law student employed by Gimbels department store, which then had its own radio station, WGBS. While writing copy for the station and doing sports reporting, Granik started his own program, "Law for the Layman". When Gimbel's station was sold to William Randolph Hearst in 1932, Granik continued doing his panel discussions on New York's WOR. The program attracted national attention with a prohibition debate in which the Women's Christian Temperance Union's Ella A. Boole made the startling claim that drunken Congressmen were wandering through "underground passages" to go from their offices to Washington speakeasies.

The program became "The Mutual Forum Hour" when the Mutual network was launched in 1934. After Granik opened his law office in Washington, he moved the program there in 1937 with a title change to "The American Forum of the Air". Within the rigid format, opening remarks by the debating opponents led to the panel discussion, followed by Q&A with the audience and closing summaries.

Transcripts were published in the "Congressional Record", and the debates often sparked activity in Congress. The series moved to television in 1949, continuing on NBC Radio until March 11, 1956. [ [ Dunning, John. "On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio". New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-507678-8] ]

Theodore Granik's granddaughter is Debra Granik, a winner of the Sundance Film Festival Dramatic Directing Award for her first feature film, "Down to the Bone" (2004).


External links

* [,9171,884322,00.html "MBS Soapbox," "Time", March 24, 1941]

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