Each week from 1935 to 1956, over 1,000 groups met to listen to America's Town Meeting of the Air. A forerunner of today's live talk shows, American's Town Meeting featured famous newsmakers, writers, poets, scientists, government officials and many more people who discussed current issues and other important topics.
The show was presented with a live audience from the New York City Town Hall and was sponsored by the League for Political Education. The live audience participated in the debates with the panelists, often contentiously. The panelists themselves often got into shouting matches, sometimes threatening to make it physical.
The purpose of the show was to get people thinking and get them interested in current events. The first show topic was "Which Way America? Communism, Fascism, Socialism or Democracy?" . Other topics discussed included whether the US should enter World War 2, is there truly freedom of the press in the US and many more controversial and informative topics.
The show was moderated by George V. Denny, Jr. who was the executive director of the League. He encouraged the loud audience participation and debate. What he wanted more than anything was for people to keep an open mind about the issues. However, he sometimes encountered audience members who would only wanted to criticize and not listen to other views instead of participate in a true debate on the pros and cons of the topic.
See also: University of Chicago Roundtable,
CBS World News Today,
Democracy in America, Speaking of Liberty and Living in an Atomic Age with philosopher, Sir Bertrand Russel, and
I Can Hear it Now (Edward R. Murrow).