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Inventory of the Firing Line (Television Program) Broadcast Records
80040  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement

  • Title: Firing Line (Television Program) Broadcast Records,
    Date (inclusive): 1966-1999
    Collection Number: 80040
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 189 manuscript boxes, 218 oversize boxes, 3 card file boxes, 1 motion picture film, 352 linear feet of video tapes (948 linear feet)
    Abstract: The Firing Line Broadcast Records include videotapes from the Firing Line television show, as well as transcripts, photographs, sound recordings, production materials, episode preparation materials, and other materials. The types of materials available for each program vary. The Episode guide provides a summary and guest list for each episode, as well as the availability of supporting documentation (transcripts, background files, etc.) When applicable, links are provided for purchasing full-length episodes and viewing 5-minute clips of episodes. The availability of special order DVDs is also noted.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives

    Access

    Collection is open for research. The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Firing Line (Television Program) Broadcast Records, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2002.

    Accruals

    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Historical Note

    With 1,505 installments over 33 years, Firing Line is the longest-running public-affairs show with a single host, William F. Buckley Jr., in television history.
    Firing Line kept substantially the same basic format throughout its run, but with certain variations.
    (1) It began as an hour-long show for commercial television (i.e., with time subtracted for commercial breaks), syndicated by WOR in New York City.
    In 1971, under the auspices of the Southern Educational Communications Association (SECA), it moved to public television and became a full hour. This move is reflected in a numbering change in the programs: shows numbered 1 through 240 were on commercial television; the SECA series then begins with s0001, taped on May 26, 1971. The WOR shows were numbered according to the order in which they were taped; the SECA shows were numbered according to the order in which they were first broadcast.
    In 1988 the length of the regular shows was changed to a half-hour.
    (2) Starting in 1978, interspersed among the regular shows are occasional specials and two-hour debates--formal debates, with opening statements, cross-examination, and closing statements. The debates were initially numbered as regular shows (the first Firing Line Debate was s0306, although a debate sponsored by Columbia College's Debate Council was filmed as shows s0296 and s0297 a few weeks earlier). Beginning in 1986, a separate numbering system was instituted for Firing Line Specials (with the number prefaced by the letters FLS). (Note: Debates listed as "Part I" and "Part II" were shown on consecutive weeks in the regular time slot rather than being shown all at once in a special two-hour time slot.)
    Starting with S0961, in March of 1993, the formal debate would often be followed by two or more shows in which roughly the same participants were released from the debate format for informal discussion.
    (3) Over the years Buckley and his producer, Warren Steibel, used various methods of bringing an extra perspective to the discussion. In the early years there would often be a panel of three questioners--sometimes students, sometimes adults.
    Starting in 1977 there would often be a single "examiner," who would play a larger part in the proceedings than the panel of questioners had typically done. The examiners who appeared most frequently were Jeff Greenfield, Michael Kinsley, Harriet Pilpel, and Mark Green.
    In 1988, when the show went to half an hour, the examiner was eliminated, but there was often a "moderator," whose role was similar to that of the moderator in a formal debate. The moderator would introduce both host and guest, and then ask the opening question. The moderator appearing most frequently was Michael Kinsley. Some early programs included a person called a "chairman," who functioned like a moderator.
    (4) Beginning with show 171, in October of 1969, approximately twice a year the tables would be turned, with a panel of questioners putting Buckley "on the firing line."
    Source: Preface to the program catalogue compiled by Firing Line staff member Linda Bridges, included in box 1.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection contains the records of the television series hosted by William F. Buckley and mainly produced by the Southern Educational Communications Association, relating to conservative thought, especially in the United States, and to American foreign and domestic policy. Materials include videotapes of the Firing Line television show, as well as transcripts, photographs, sound recordings, production materials, episode preparation materials, and other materials. The types of materials available for each program vary.
    The collection is organized into three series: Episode guide, Production materials file, and Audiovisual file.
    The Episode Guide is arranged by show number and includes the title, episode summary, and guest names for each show. Numbers that are followed by an "R" are repeat broadcasts of the same program, while numbers followed by an "E" are edited repeat broadcasts. When applicable, links are provided for purchasing full-length episodes and viewing 5-minute clips of episodes. The availability of special order DVDs is also noted. The Episode Guide additionally includes three types of supporting documentation: Background files, Publicity files, and Transcripts. Note that not all shows have all three types of documentation.
    Background files include preparation materials, such as clippings, correspondence, transcripts, histories, press summaries, and printed matter, as well as other collected materials on speakers and their appearances on Firing Line shows.
    Publicity files cover the Public television shows under the auspices of the SECA, and contain materials such as still photographs, negatives, and slides, as well as transcripts, newsletters, and other documents, although the types of materials available on a particular program vary.
    Transcripts of Firing Line are both typewritten and printed. Also included among Transcripts are two productions hosted by William F. Buckley that were not Firing Line programs. The shows have been designated as 000a and 000b. These programs are included in the Episode Guide and the transcripts are located in box 159. For digital copies of Firing Line transcripts please contact Hoover Institution Archives at hoover_visuals@stanford.edu for information.
    The Production materials file includes Administrative files and Speaker and Research files. Administrative files document the creation of the program. Files contain a catalogue of transcripts, Firing Line guests' topic lists, programs lists, Special Debates lists, correspondence with prominent politicians, economists, and scientists, and viewer comments and suggestions. Press releases, newsletters, newspaper clippings, and files on William F. Buckley and Warren Steibel, the Firing Line producer-director, are also included. Photographs, negatives, and slides of William F. Buckley individually and with the guests on his shows complete the records.
    Speaker and Research files include clippings, correspondence, transcripts, histories, press summaries, and printed matter, as well as other collected materials on speakers and their appearances on the Firing Line shows, or topics of shows. Some files include the transcript of the show although not every show or speaker is represented with a file. The original order of the files was retained, and is generally arranged alphabetically by the last name of the speaker. Speakers who made multiple appearances may have several files. The William F. Buckley book On the Firing Line: The Public Life of Our Public Figures (Random House, New York, 1989) contains an alphabetical list of guests on Firing Line (see box 7).
    The Audiovisual file includes Video recordings, Sound recordings, and Motion picture film.
    Sound recordings contain sound tracks of the early Firing Line television shows on open reel tapes and compact sound cassettes.
    Video recordings include videotapes of most shows in a variety of formats. Some shows are recorded on videotape formats that are at or near obsolescence. The Hoover Institution is gradually preserving and transferring the shows to modern preservation formats. Many videotapes have been digitized; additional reformatting depends on funding. Priority for transfer is given to the most endangered formats and to the programs most requested. Videotapes of programs that have not been reformatted are typically not available for immediate viewing. Selected programs can be viewed in the Hoover Archives reading room or purchased from Amazon.com. Please contact Hoover Institution Archives at hoover_visuals@stanford.edu for information

    Arrangement

    The collection is organized into three series: Episode guide, Production materials file, and Audiovisual file.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Buckley, William F. (William Frank), 1925-
    Southern Educational Communications Association
    Conservatism.
    United States--Foreign relations--20th century.
    United States--Politics and government--20th century.
    United States--Politics and government.
    Video tapes.