Gerald Slater Papers
Gerald Slater's initial work in public broadcasting included the position of director of operations of the Public Broadcasting Laboratory from 1967 to 1969. In this job, he organized all operations of this experimental television venture funded by a Ford Foundation grant to create original drama, arts, and public affairs programming for the first nationwide public television network. Then, from 1969 to 1970, he served as project specialist in communications for the Ford Foundation. There, as part of a staff responsible for administrating of $18 million in annual television programming grants, Slater initiated, evaluated, and selected program proposals to fund. From 1970 to 1975, Slater was general manager of the Public Broadcasting Service, with the task of organizing the first U.S. public television network. In 1973, he became vice-president of broadcasting at PBS, where his duties included station relations and public information. Finally, in July 1975, Slater became executive vice-president of WETA, a position he held until 1989. The collection consists of correspondence, clippings, interviews and transcripts on a 1971 investigative report on the FBI by Paul Jacobs for The Great American Dream Machine.
Important Information for Users of the Collection
This collection is open for research use.
Gerald Slater Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.
Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials page for more information. Queries regarding publicatioght status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.
This collection is PROCESSED.
Gerald Slater received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from New York University. He started his broadcasting career in the commercial end of the field, working for Columbia Broadcasting System from 1960 to 1967. First, from 1960 to 1962, he was a network supervisor, responsible for all operating departments during evenings and weekends as he supervised "on-air" operations for CBS Television Network and WCBS-TV. From 1962 to 1965, as production supervisor, Slater was responsible for production budgets for CBS News. Then, from 1965 to 1967, Slater served as manager of News Production Services. In this job, he created a liaison department between CBS News Division and CBS Television Network to provide central administration of all operations between the two divisions.
Slater's first job in public broadcasting was as director of operations for the Public Broadcasting Laboratory from 1967 to 1969. In this job, he organized all operations of this $15 million experimental weekly television venture funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation to create original drama, arts, and public affairs programming for the first nation-wide public television network. Then, from 1969 to 1970, he worked as a communications specialist for the Ford Foundation. There, as a member of a three person staff responsible for the administration of $18 million in annual television programming grants, Slater initiated, evaluated, and selected program proposals to be funded.
From 1970 to 1975, Slater worked as general manager of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) as he was recruited to organize the first U.S. public television network. His responsibilities included establishment of all operating procedures, design of the public network broadcasting land line and satellite distribution systems, as well as setting policies and directing the Programming, Public Information, Business Affairs, Advertising, Station Relations, Operations and Engineering Departments. He negotiated a reduced rate from AT&T for distributing network programs and he set the policy for the relationship between PBS and member stations. In 1973, he was named vice-president of broadcasting at PBS, where his duties included station relations and public information.
From July 1975 to 1989, Slater was executive vice-president of WETA TV/Radio. Here, he managed all operations of public broadcasting stations WETA-TV and WETA-FM in Washington, DC, making final decisions on all programs, and directing 200 employees including producers, executives, on-air talent, engineers, and technicians. He also represented public broadcasting on official visits to Japan and the Soviet Union. Some specific accomplishments Slater did for WETA include the creation of Smithsonian World, a co-production with the Smithsonian Institution and work as Executive in Charge for the station in the creation of the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour.
From 1989 to the present, Slater has been working for Rock Creek Productions, serving clients such as the American Museum of National History, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Maryland Public Broadcasting Commission, and the New York City Board of Education. He currently lives in Washington, DC.
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Gerald Slater Papers covers the dates September to November 1971, and contains some undated material. The collection documents the controversy surrounding the 1971 conflict between the Public Broadcasting Service and National Educational Television over investigative reporter Paul Jacobs' story on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its possible inclusion in the satirical television series The Great American Dream Machine. Types of documents include correspondence, photocopied articles, and transcripts. Correspondents include former PBS president Hartford N. Gunn and former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
Custodial History and Acquisition Information
The Gerald L. Slater Papers was donated to the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland Libraries by Gerald L. Slater in October of 1990.
Processed by Karen E. King, March 1993. Revised by Karen E. King, August 1993
EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Karen E. King, August 2006.
Arrangement of Collection
The collection consists of one series.
Detailed Description of the Collection
Series 1: The Great American Dream Machine, September-November 1971, undated (0.25 linear foot)
This series documents the decisions surrounding the Paul Jacobs' report in which three men alleged that the FBI recruited them to bomb buildings and other acts which the FBI would then blame on radicals. The documents were organized in both chronological and narrative order, focusing on the transcripts, National Educational Television, the Public Broadcasting Service, responses from both the stations and the audience, the self-investigative show Behind the Lines, and finally press reports which document and summarize the events.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame|
|Transcripts -- Original, undated||series 1||box 1||folder 1|
|Transcripts -- Revisions, undated||series 1||box 1||folder 2|
|Transcripts -- Revised, undated||series 1||box 1||folder 3|
|National Educational Television -- Correspondence -- FBI, Seattle Police, September 1971||series 1||box 1||folder 4|
|National Educational Television -- Correspondence -- Stephen Glauber - Norman Sinel, September-October 1971||series 1||box 1||folder 5|
|National Educational Television -- Al Perlmutter - producer Statements, undated||series 1||box 1||folder 6|
|Public Broadcasting Service -- Memoranda, Correspondence, October 1971||series 1||box 1||folder 7|
|Public Broadcasting Service -- Phone/TWX Messages, September-October 1971||series 1||box 1||folder 8|
|Public Broadcasting Service -- Interviews with Hartford N. Gunn, October 6, 1971||series 1||box 1||folder 9|
|Public Broadcasting Service -- Letters to Press, October 1971||series 1||box 1||folder 10|
|Public Broadcasting Service -- MacDonald Investigation, October-November 1971||series 1||box 1||folder 11|
|Responses -- Station, undated||series 1||box 1||folder 12|
|Responses -- Audience, undated||series 1||box 1||folder 13|
|Behind the Lines, October 8, 1971||series 1||box 1||folder 14|
|Press & UPI Articles, October-November 1971||series 1||box 1||folder 15|
For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Selected Search Terms
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.
- Gunn, Hartford N. -- Correspondence.
- Hoover, J. Edgar (John Edgar), 1895-1972 -- Correspondence.
- Investigative reporting -- United States.
- Public broadcasting -- United States.
- United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation.