Bill Clinton photo

Remarks on the Opening of the Los Angeles Branch of the Museum of Television and Radio

March 17, 1996

Let me say that I'm very sorry I couldn't be with you in person tonight. But I am delighted to be here by satellite to open the Los Angeles branch of the Museum of Television and Radio. Hillary and I send our best wishes to all of you, and we know we have an awful lot of friends among you tonight.

I'm speaking to you from the White House's historic library which actually has something in common with the museum. Even though many of the books that fill this room were written long before we ever heard a voice over the radio or saw a face on the screen, all three mediums serve much the same purpose. They enable us to communicate, to pass along ideas, stories, histories, reports from one person to another, to get a feel for the times. And that's why your museum is so important, for radio and television are truly witnesses to our century.

Among the 75,000 programs available are President Franklin Roosevelt's "fireside chats," which helped to pull our Nation through the Depression and the Second World War. There's footage of the triumph of man's first steps on the Moon, a record of our civil rights struggles. And having just returned from the Middle East, I am especially sensitive to the fact that you have footage of President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin and later of the historic handshake between Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Rabin. You also have footage of the tragedy of President Kennedy's assassination. But I'm also told there are even a few lighter moments reserved for "I Love Lucy" and "Happy Days" and "Seinfeld."

This museum is a tribute not only to radio and television but especially to the men and women who pioneered them and who made the most of their infinite potential. Some of our country's greatest creative talents have dedicated their lives to writing, directing, and producing radio and TV shows. And some of our greatest talents are still engaged in that important work. This museum honors them too.

The Museum of Television and Radio is doing nothing less than preserving our historical and cultural legacy for the future. Through its screening and listening devices, the seminars, the classes, the museum plays an important role as it enhances people's understanding of the craft and the creativity of these two media and how they've had an impact on our lives. Using the same satellite technology that allows me to join you this evening, the museum is able to take its education programs to a national audience, particularly through its University Satellite Seminar Series, which reaches college students all across our Nation.

I know many of you in attendance have been instrumental in giving us the gift of radio and television. Let me thank you for that gift which touches millions of Americans every day. And I want to thank you, too, for the gift of the Museum of Television and Radio, first in New York and now in Los Angeles. It's a great gift to the American people. You have created a significant cultural institution.

I congratulate you, I thank you, and I wish you well this evening. Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke by satellite at 10:40 p.m. from the Library at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on the Opening of the Los Angeles Branch of the Museum of Television and Radio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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