Radio and Education: The Round Table

Roundtable1

[Robert M. Hutchins, Floyd Reeves, and John McCloy, in Mitchell Tower, November 26, 1944]

“0n February 4, 1931, three University of Chicago professors sat around an already antiquated microphone in Mitchell Tower for an unrehearsed discussion of a new government report on prohibition. It was one of the earliest informal, “round table” discussions of a public issue ever heard on radio. To broadcast the program, Chicago station WMAQ had to waive its standing rule against ad-libbing on the air.

“That first experiment led to the long-running University of Chicago Round Table radio program. In the mid-1930s, WMAQ’s parent network, NBC, picked up the program for broadcast nationally on Sunday afternoons. Much of the program’s success was due to William Benton, co-founder of the Benton and Bowles advertising agency, a trustee and vice-president of the University, who saw early the power mass media could have in presenting the University to the public.”

From the online catalog, The University and the City: A Centennial View of the University of Chicago

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Seen here are behind-the-scenes production photos of the Round Table featuring Robert Maynard Hutchins, President of the University and a driving force in educational reform.

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Transcripts of these radio programs were published as pamphlets and can be checked out from the library or read in Special Collections.

The round table itself – actually triangular in shape and covered in green felt – sits in the Special Collections reading room!

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