BW - EP129—002: Radio, Roswell And The Flying Saucer Craze—The Chicago Roundtable Debate


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The University of Chicago Roundtable grew out of arguments had by professors at the faculty club. In 1931 they were convinced their forum would make for good radio. WMAQ agreed. The show premiered on February 1st of that year. It began running nationally over NBC on October 15th, 1933. The thirty-minute time slot allowed for little grandstanding. Professors rotated with each broadcast according to their expertise. They sat at a triangular table, which put the speakers face-to-face. It had time-warning lights facing each chair and was built like a sloping pyramid, with a microphone at the top. If people really were seeing UFOs in the sky they had to be coming from other worlds. On December 19th, 1948 The Roundtable attempted to answer the question from a scientific point of view. There were no scripts, but Roundtable was the first show of its kind to issue a weekly magazine. It contained a transcript of the previous program, biographies of the participants, listener feedback, suggested topical reading, and a schedule of coming broadcasts. The University of Chicago Roundtable would air until June 12th, 1955, finally going off the air when NBC launched Monitor.

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