James Day (1918-2008) co-founded an early public television station and became well-known for his interviews with prominent figures. From 1953 to 1969, he served as the president and general manager of KQED (San Francisco, CA). For fourteen years, he hosted his own weekly program, Kaleidoscope, on which he interviewed many notable people, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Robert Kennedy, and Buster Keaton. In 1969, Day became president of National Educational Television (NET). When NET merged with New York's public television channel, WNDT, in 1970 to become WNET/Channel 13, Day became the merged organizations' president. In 1973, Day resigned as president of WNET due to his dissatisfaction with public television and the growing importance of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). He founded his own production company, Subdivision, Inc., which produced and syndicated to public stations all over the world a night interview program, Day at Night.
The collection documents Day's career at KQED, NET, WNET, and as an independent consultant in public television. A great deal of the collection consists of Day's research for his 1995 history of public television, The Vanishing Vision: The Inside Story of Public Television.
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19.50 Linear Feet
29 Items (22 items shelved individually, 7 items stored in 12 x 9 inch carton. )
James Day was born on December 22, 1918, in Alameda, California. He earned an AB in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1941, and a postgraduate degree from Stanford University in 1951.
After serving as a Captain in the Army during World War Two, Day worked as the director of Public Affairs and Education for NBC, San Francisco from 1946 to 1949. He spent 1949 to 1951 in Tokyo, Japan, as a civilian radio specialist with the Army of Occupation. He then took a job as Deputy Director of Radio Free Asia from 1951 to 1953.
Immediately after leaving Radio Free Asia, Day received a phone call from the assistant to the president of Stanford University asking if he would be interested in applying for a job that was being developed by the Bay Area Public Television Association. Day was interested and about a week later, he became the founding director of KQED, San Francisco, the nation's sixth public television station.
Day served as the president and general manager of KQED from 1953 until 1969. Under his leadership, KQED won a worldwide reputation for its imaginative and bold programming and for its innovative fund raising. KQED set a new precedence for nightly news with its program Newsroom.
For fourteen years, Day hosted his own weekly program, Kaleidoscope, on which he interviewed many notable people including Eleanor Roosevelt, Robert Kennedy, Buster Keaton, Aldous Huxley, and Alexander Kerensky. Additionally, he conducted extended interviews with Eric Hoffer and Arnold Toynbee.
In 1969, Day left KQED to become president of National Educational Television (NET), then the national network of educational television with headquarters in New York City. When NET merged with New York's public television channel, WNDT, in 1970 to become WNET/Channel 13, Day became the president of the merged organizations. His name is closely associated with some of the NET programming of that period, including The Great American Dream Machine, An American Family, Banks and the Poor, and VD Blues.
In 1973, Day resigned as president of WNET due to his dissatisfaction with public television and the growing importance of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). He founded his own production company, Publivision, Inc., which produced and syndicated to public stations all over the world a night interview program, Day At Night. The series of 130 half-hour shows brought Day together with many leaders in the arts, sciences, literature, sports, entertainment, and public service, such as Ray Bradbury, Aaron Copland, Alger Hiss, Muhammad Ali, Jason Robards, and Ralph Ellison.
Day's service with public television continued even after he had left for the private sector. He served three years on the original board of PBS and fourteen years on the original board of the Children's Television Workshop. He was one of the founders of the International Public Television Screening conference, chairman of the board of The Press and the Public Project, and president of Timely Productions.
In 1995, Day published the book, The Vanishing Vision: The Inside Story of Public Television, which outlines the history of public television from the early 1950s, through the turbulent sixties and seventies, to the modern problems that face the field in the 1990s.
Starting in 1976, Day served as Professor Emeritus at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in television and radio. He also continued to serve as president of Publivision, Inc., and as a consultant for various projects, which have in the past included trips to Africa, Asia and South America. From 2000 to 2008, Day was an advisor to CUNY-TV, the City University of New York's television station.
James Day died on April 24, 2008.
The collection consists of five series:
The James Day Papers were donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland Libraries by James Day in four installments in August of 1990, October of 1996, September of 1998 and May of 1999. A final accretion was donated in 2008 but has not yet been incorporated into this finding aid.