Walter Kerr, Bennet Cerf, Edward Weeks and Bernard Baruch

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

Irita Van Doren introduces theater critic Walter Kerr to discuss his book "Pieces at Eight." Kerr charms the audience with his self-deprecating humor (as well as several jokes about his wife). He speaks about the current difficulties of selling low-priced seats - and his thesis that the theater is supported by a relatively small patronage of individuals willing to pay for high priced tickets. He believes that the theater should be made popular to the mass audience, while striving for a high standard.

Kerr strongly believes that a diverse audience - which includes the popular and patron classes will force the production of a masterpiece, a great demand on the playwright. He speaks of the higher standards of his readers, and the many letters he receives that express shock that he enjoyed a show that they found so disagreeable.

The next speaker is Bennett Cerf, author of "Reading for Pleasure." He dismisses the notion that people have stopped reading books in favor of watching television. He jokes about all of the past "menaces" to reading - including trolley cars and bicycles.

The next speaker is Edward A. Weeks, editor of The Atlantic Monthly. The magazine is about to celebrate it's centennial anniversary, and for which a volume of 128 articles will be published, titled Jubilee. Weeks' speech highlights some of the great and unknown authors who had appeared in the magazine over the century.

The final author is Bernard Baruch, who speaks of his autobiography "Baruch: My Own Story."

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70960
Municipal archives id: LT7743