Telephone and Television Programs

TMI was also sensitive to the needs of housebound individuals, devising a series of distance courses designed to facilitate intellectual and social exchange between individuals prevented from participating in-person due to illness, physical impairment or disability. 

The Telephone Conference course ran from 1982 to 1986 and was largely self-funded. It consisted of 12 1-hour course sessions held over Bell Telephone Conference lines. Course material was made available in the form of audio tapes or printed matter prepared by volunteers at the Institute with assistance from volunteers at the Montreal Association for the Blind. A pick-up and delivery schedule was worked out among Institute members to ensure participants received their weekly course material in time for the weekly call-in conference session. Due to the prohibitive Bell telephone network charges, the telephone course ended in 1986.

Between 1962 and 1969, TMI engaged in a yearly discussion course in collaboration with Montreal’s CFCF-TV on Channel 12 (The Canadian Marconi Company, currently known as CTV). In preparation for the course, a TMI committee of directors made up of Martin O’Hara (Chairman), Eileen DeNeeve, Helene Loiselle and Stan Machnik, was created to curate material and act as a liaison with CFCF-TV committee composed of producer and director of public affairs and education Clifford Brown, film officer John Krug, and film supervisor on technical quality Molly Alderson. According to TMI, the main purpose of The Liberal Arts was to “encourage sustained selective television viewing which would broaden the interests and deepen the consciousness of those taking part, and making available to the public, as would a library, a range of valuable cultural and educational material.” 

TMI’s “Liberal Arts Series” on Channel 12 was a full academic course that attracted hundreds of viewers and participants including regular viewers, senior high school students, college students and scholars. The series was broadcast daily for one half hour, usually in the mornings, and notable guests included TV personality Dave Garroway, film director Elia Kazan, French actor Marcel Marceau, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, composer Aaron Copland and photographer Ansel Adams, to name a few. TMI prepared prospectuses, organized lectures and reading courses to coincide with many of the Channel 12 screenings. Viewers could take these courses for credit and submit their work for grading for a fee of 10$. Approximately a dozen or so viewers used the series to begin working towards their BA degrees. According to TMI directors at the time, one senior high school class followed the Tuesday series, at least four college classes in Montreal watched the series related to their own courses, and at least 2 scholars integrating material from the series into their research.