[Reece Congressional Committee]

Saturday, June 12, 1954

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Seldes opens with a reference to the Reece committee and the profound affects they may have on creative and educational broadcasters. The Reece committee and Norman Dodd have drawn conclusions and now endeavor to prove them. An attempt is being made to destroy an important factor in American education and social life. Seldes believes that we have to tolerate bad foundations in order to keep alive the possibility of the good ones. He finds the phrase "un-American" dubious.
He mentions that Thomas Jefferson failed at his own principles of freedom of the press and tried to suppress some newspapers in Boston.

Seldes discusses "scoops" in the news. Noting that usually breaking news moves from radio to newspaper to television. However, he presents a flabbergasting example of television capturing the first interview with Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

He speaks of the Venice Biennale, and that of the 21 pavilions present at the event, the only one not supported by a nation is from the United States, and is funded by the Museum of Modern Art.
Seldes discusses the American disinterest in state-funded art. Seldes cannot understand why we are so unwilling to take a chance on the arts. He does not want the government to define art, only to support it - he discusses a bill in congress that aims to do this.

Finally he mentions cities becoming 'twins': York, Pennsylvania and Arles, France have become twins in an effort to teach French to American school children and English to French school children.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 71532
Municipal archives id: LT3102

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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