October 1969 - 'The Advocates' Premieres | KCET
October 1969 - 'The Advocates' Premieres
In October 1969, "The Advocates," a public policy program presented in a debate format co-produced by KCET and Boston's WGBH, made its nationwide debut on the NET network.
The weekly, hour-long live program will featured two "advocates," which are trained lawyers arguing both sides of a specific public policy question before a "decision maker" and a studio audience. The studio audience, and home audiences, via telephone, had the ability to vote on the issue being debated - an example of interactive media before its time.
The program was hosted by advocates Howard Miller, a USC law professor; William Rusher, publisher of The National Review; and moderator Victor Palmieri. Advocates on both sides were able to call up a panel of "witnesses" to further their position. Witnesses were guests from government, academia, media, and popular culture.
Guest witnesses included Michael Dukakis, Barney Frank, Jesse Owens, Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, and Joe Biden.
The first show featured California State Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh as decision-maker concerned debating a bill in the California legislature intended to ban the sale of internal combustion machines in the state after 1975.
Created by Harvard law professor Roger Fisher, the program evolved from "It's Up To You," a short-lived1968 Boston public TV series that featured interested citizens debating specific public policy issues.
"The Advocates" won a Peabody Award in 1970.
The program, which ran for six years, was taped at KCET's studios in Hollywood and at Faneuil Hall in Boston, and was funded by grants from the Ford Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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