(Television History and Trivia)
Victor Edward Swanson,
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- - - T.H.A.T., Edition No. 35 - - -
Since it seems very likely not everyone in the U.S. knows what an "electronic program guide" is, I will say that it is a television-program-listings guide in electronic form that is, in essence, one channel of dozens and dozens of channels provided by a cable television service or a direct-to-home-from-satellite television service to a customer. The electronic program guides that I have seen over the years really do not give much information about shows--they simply list shows and the times at which the shows will be presented through program grids. In the future, if a person were able to look back at a program guide of today--this day on which you read this document--the person would have little idea about what happened and what shows were about and what persons were in the shows (even a person or two). To me, it is nice to have those paper-form television-program-listings publications at hand and nearby, and although television-program-listings publications--especially some--are getting less detailed every year or every month (it seems to me), the publications, unlike electronic program guides, will be able to provide a person of the future with at least a little information to look at, such as as part of copies of newspapers stored in some type of form in a library, or paper-form television-program-listings guides will be able to provide at least a little information as long as they were published on dates for which a person is interested. I state that when paper-form television-program-listings guides are no longer published, there will be less information to look back at and search through for someone of the future.
Welcome to another edition of T.H.A.T.!
I have "important information." I did some research in old editions of TV Guide at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library on Saturday, February 24, 2007, hoping to get information on television shows that were produced at and broadcast from Detroit-area television stations in the past (I am finally doing work to create a Detroit-shows file as a part of my full library of index cards about television, though I have done some listing of Detroit-area shows over the years). I discovered one little advertisement that was put out in September 1956 that noted that Bill Kennedy was hosting the Friday-afternoon movie program on CKLW-TV at the time, which was called Going Our Way (in the previous edition of T.H.A.T., I could not officially report in my files and to you that Bill Kennedy was hosting movies on Fridays from when he started at the station in around August 1956 to June 10, 1960). I can now report that Bill Kennedy did host the Going Our Way show on CKLW-TV from the day that he started at the station through Friday, June 10, 1960, and I can say that on Friday, June 17, 1960, the Friday show became known as Bill Kennedy Showtime, which had been the title for his other shows for the other days of the week since Hollywood Showtime had been changed to Bill Kennedy Showtime on October 15, 1956. So, generally speaking, Bill Kennedy did host movies on a five-day-a-week basis between roughly August 1956 and December 1982. By the way, the edition of TV Guide that covered the week of August 25-31, 1956, was missing or is missing from the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, and because of that I cannot say for sure what day was Bill Kennedy's first day at CKLW-TV, which could probably be Sunday, August 26, 1956, or Monday, August 27, 1956, or Sunday, September 2, 1956, which I know for sure was a day that his show was on the air, and that first day would be related to a movie show called Hollywood Showtime.
My research about television programs done by Bill Kennedy in the Detroit area is not done. Since I published the previous edition of T.H.A.T., I found in television-program-listings publications that Bill Kennedy did host a program called Your Hollywood Host in around 1953 on WWJ-TV on some weekday afternoons, and I found that, in 1953, he was reading news in newscasts called Today in Detroit on weekday mornings on WWJ-TV (the newscasts followed the Today show fed to WWJ-TV by the NBC-TV network, of which WWJ-TV was an affiliate). When I get more information about those shows, I will put the information in my files and then, maybe, pass along the information through an edition of T.H.A.T., and, in the future, I should be able to report the date on which Bill Kennedy started hosting Hollywood Showtime.
Oh, in the next edition of T.H.A.T., I will present a special discussion about my doing research on Detroit-area-produced television programs and a book entitled From Soupy to Nuts! A History of Detroit Television (which was put together by Tim Kiska and published in 2005).
Over the last several years, I have told others that we are now in the "pseudo information age," and my reasons for saying that we are now in the "pseudo information age" are many, one of which is print publications are doing less to present facts, as can be seen through what is being done in television-program-listings publications, which do less than what television-program-listings publications did from the 1940s to the 1970s (examples of which can be seen in microfiche files of newspapers at libraries), and here I present information about several television-program-listings publications distributed in the Detroit area (but I do not cover TV Guide in the discussion). I regularly see TV BOOK (of the Detroit Free Press), TV Select (of The Macomb Daily/Daily Tribune), and TV Guide & Shopper (which is distributed in Washtenaw County and western Wayne County). (I regularly see TV this week distributed with the Cheboygan Daily Tribune (of Cheboygan, Michigan), but it is not part of the discussion here). I like the TV Guide & Shopper, a free publication when it is picked up at a distribution point, because it is more likely to list the full names of programs--when programs do get listed--unlike TV BOOK and TV Select, but, for example, in relation to broadcast television stations of the area, TV Guide & Shopper does a poor job of covering the time period between about one in the morning and noon, and I also like it that TV Guide & Shopper does not have program grids (it still lists shows by time periods going from roughly noon to about one in the morning or it still uses a listing method involving columns). TV Guide & Shopper is useful to me, though it does not have any listings for the morning of each day, and the publication could be useful in the future to someone who wants to do research about what television shows were aired in the Detroit area in the past, especially locally produced shows. Today, I can say that Select TV is a better product that TV BOOK is, which has been "cheapened" again recently for some subscribers (the magazine put channels in categories using some page space for "labels" instead of using the page space for additional channels). For one, Select TV gives at least a little information about what programs are on the air on the broadcast stations on Saturdays and Sundays from 6:00 a.m. to noon, unlike TV BOOK, and that makes TV Select useful for a person of today who wants to see what is going on and for a person of the future who wants to see what happened (because of the style used by TV Select, I was aware that WADL-TV is carrying a locally produced program entitled Sports Talk with Quentin King, which will be talked about later in this edition of T.H.A.T.). In addition, TV Select gives at least a bit of information about programs on the air between 11:00 p.m. and midnight, and TV BOOK does not. Both TV BOOK and TV Select often do not give the complete names of programs (except in "highlights" articles for a few shows), and that is bad, or it will be bad for a researcher in the future who wants to see what happened today or in this day and age.
By the way, the management of the Detroit Free Press "cheapened" (as I will say) its TV BOOK for some people in the state somewhat recently by dividing up the channels into more groups, and the groups are based on themes, such as "Entertainment" and "Knowledge & Skills"; the change took place for at least a version of TV BOOK distributed in western Wayne County, and I noticed the change in December 2006. By making the change and adding more headings, each heading, such as "entertainment," uses space that I think is better used for listing another channel and the programs of the channel. By making the change in TV BOOK, the management of the Detroit Free Press has made it so that a person now has to hunt through several categories to find a particular channel. Before that change took place, most of the channels had been listed alphabetically in one group. Now there are more groups to search through, and, for instance, there are--for prime time--nine blocks or groups of channels because of the change, and by my count, there are at least four useless headings, which take up space better used for information.
Here is an example of a television show that you might have wondered what it was based on what information--what little information--was given you in a television-program-listings publication, which will be of little use in the future to someone trying to determine what the show was. I was clicking through the channels during the evening of Wednesday, February 7, 2007, and I came across a show being aired by WADL-TV Channel 38 at 11:30 p.m. (I came upon the show after it was already running). I discovered the show was an episode of a series called Know Your Heritage: Black College Quiz; in essence, the show used that old format in which two teams of several students (four students in this case) try to be the winning team by getting the most points by answering questions posed by a host. The half-hour show was called only "Heritage" in the television-program-listings grid contained in the TV Select magazine of The Macomb Daily/Daily Tribune, which is a newspaper distributed in the northern suburbs of Detroit. For the record, I note here that the weekly series was produced by Central City Productions, and based on the information that I have at hand now, the series was first shown on WADL-TV on Wednesday, February 7, 2007, and the host was GregAlan Williams.
"Various programming," "varied," or "local programming"--these are some of the terms that television-program-listings publications use as "catch-all" terms to indicate some type of programming is to be aired (especially in the same time period on weekdays, such as in "late-night" programming grids), and because such terms are used, viewers are less likely to come across information about locally produced programs that are soon to air, such as in a few days, one example of which I note here. On Tuesday, February 13, 2006, I discovered a weekly sports-talk show was airing in a time period that had had some other program up until recently, and the new show was entitled Sports Talk with Quentin King, and it was running on the MyNetworkTV affiliate in the Detroit area, WMYD-TV, Channel 20, in the twelve-thirty A.M. half-hour block (or from 12:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.), though, at first, when I tuned into the program, I was unaware of when the program started running and when it would end. For the time period, Select TV had "Paid" (the following week, it would have "Varied"). "For the record," I report that Sports Talk with Quentin King is a locally produced weekly half-hour show in which Quentin King talks about sports happenings, provides interview clips of sports celebrities, urges viewers to send in e-mail questions or comments to him (at www.sportstalk07/hotmail.com), and answers some e-mail questions, all of which is done while he is sitting in a chair in front of a desk (backed by a simple set). Based on the credits seen at the end of the show for February 20, 2007, I report that the executive producer of that show was Quentin King and the director was Steve Lloyd, and I report that some of the other staffers were Dallas Leyva (the editor), Ana Shaska (the technical director), Todd Luneack (the audio engineer), Cecil Williams (a camera operator), Amanda Butche (a camera operator), and Craig Matney (a camera operator).
Incidentally, I found that TV Guide & Shopper had "Sports Talk with Quentin King" listed for Tuesday, February 20, 2007 (from 12:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.); I had not seen a copy of TV Guide & Shopper for the previous week (I sometimes think of TV Guide & Shopper as Tele-Cable Guide because of the way in which the publisher puts "TV Guide & Shopper" on the cover--in the "flag" area--and states "WE'LL MAIL TELE-CABLE GUIDE ANYWHERE IN THE U.S. FOR $2/WK" on the cover).
Because of how television-program-listings publications are made and set up--electronic type and paper type--you might be unaware of a change that took place with a broadcast television network recently and someone in the future who goes looking for information about television shows of this general time period (circa January/February/March 2007) will have a hard time figuring what was shown and what happened, and, by the way, although I am basing my talk about television-program-listings publications distributed in the Detroit area, I believe you will notice the same themes can be applied to television-program-listings publications of the area in which you live, if you do not live in the Detroit area. On Monday, January 29, 2007, the "i" television network (or "i" or "i: independent television") became known as the "ion" television network," and that you may not have known, given that TV Guide for the week of Monday, January 29, 2007, still had "i" listed in the program grids, and given that TV BOOK (of the Detroit Free Press) for the week of Sunday, January 28, 2007, only had "i" listed in the program grids, and given that Select TV (of the The Macomb Daily/Daily Tribune) for the week of Sunday, January 28, 2007, only had "31" listed in program grids (Channel 31 is the affiliate for the ion television network in the Detroit area, and Select TV does not note network names in the program girds, as do TV Guide and TV BOOK). Generally speaking, ion is doing what i was doing--as a rule, the network focuses on presenting programs during the prime-time period of each day, and the programs are "off-network series," many of which are decades old (such as Bonanza, Charlie's Angels, Green Acres, Growing Pains, Kojak, and Kung Fu), movies (usually shown on Saturday and Sunday evenings and under the umbrella title called ion Movie Weekend), and sometimes specials. (As a rule, affiliates of ion television air infomercials at other times of each day or religious programming.) The new network (though it is really the renamed i) has already aired some specials, though they were not listed in the paper-form television-program-listings publications that I am talking about in this section (the specials were listed in the television-program-listings grids at the web site for ion television). For Saturday evening, February 17, 2007, TV Guide reported that ion was going to show two movies (10 and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai), and TV BOOK and Select TV reported the same information. On Saturday, February 17, 2007, though, ion showed bodogFIGHT: USA vs Russia from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and bodogFIGHT: St. Petersburg from 11:00 p.m. to midnight, and, incidentally, each special was called an "ion Special Sports Presentation." If you were to look at a program guide for an affiliate of ion television, you might see a show entitled "Live from Liberty" listed (such as on Sunday evening, as is noted in Select TV), but that show is fully entitled Live from Liberty University.
I have to make an aside here. On February 14, 2007, I noticed that the History Channel aired a program called "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" (at 8:00 p.m. for two hours), which dealt with the killing of seven gangsters in Chicago, Illinois, on February 14, 1929 (which, by the way, was about seven months before the famous stock-market crash of 1929). I made a card about the show for my files, and when I went to file the card, I saw that I had two other shows called "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" in my files. On Sunday, August 1, 1999, the Arts and Entertainment Channel (or A&E) aired a program called St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and on Tuesday, February 10, 2004, the Discovery Channel gave viewers a program called St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
For fun, I could say a couple things based on information that I provide in the previous paragraph. Why should a person record anything, if the same subject will get covered again in a few years? Does it seem there is nothing new on television? Do some subjects get covered too much?
In every issue of T.H.A.T., I usually provide answers to questions posed in the previous edition of T.H.A.T., but that usual occurrence should not be construed as covering the same topic again and again. In the previous edition of T.H.A.T., I asked you to come up with the name of the character played by Carol Lynley in the made-for-TV movie entitled The Night Stalker, and through this edition of T.H.A.T., I note that the answer is "Gail Foster," which should have been easy for any person to discover through a little research. Much of the previous edition of T.H.A.T. focused on Bill Kennedy, but I did wonder if you knew who played "Sgt. Sacto" on a Detroit-based-and-produced television show aired by WKBD-TV after Bill Kennedy at the Movies in 1969. The show was called Captain Detroit (in television-program-listings publications, but it may not be the correct full title), and through this edition of T.H.A.T., I report that "Sgt. Sacto" was played by Tom Ryan, who is yet doing disc-jockey work on WOMC-FM in the Detroit area.
I must admit the "Sgt. Sacto" question was not supposed to be hard to answer, since it was given to you to give me a reason to do research on the television show featuring Sgt. Sacto for my files, which mostly have been designed over the last three decades or so to have information about programming related to syndication, broadcast television networks, and cable television--up to this point, my collecting of information about television has been limited with respect to Detroit-area television programs, because, for one, I started collecting information about television when the heyday of locally produced shows was past (the peak time was from the 1940s to the 1970s).
Here is what my looking for information about "Sgt. Sacto" led me to, though not all that I was led to. From Monday, May 1, 1967, through Friday, September 1, 1967, Tom Ryan played Sgt Sacto on what was informally called Captain Detroit, and during the show, Sgt. Sacto did contests and games and comedy, and he introduced syndicated material (which the station had bought to use), such as "Little Lulu" cartoons, "Quick Draw McGraw" cartoons (from Hanna-Barbera Productions), and "Q.T. Hush" cartoons, and Captain Detroit was shown live every weekday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (By the way, the show was followed by The Alvin Show, a syndicated half-hour program.) After being off the air for a very short while, on Monday, September 18, 1967, the show returned, and it was now a one-hour show, and it ran from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The final one-hour version of Captain Detroit was shown on Friday, January 2, 1970, and on Monday, January 5, 1970, it became a half-hour show that was shown on weekdays beginning at 3:30 p.m. The final Captain Detroit was seen on Friday, September 3, 1971. For now, I must report that I am uncertain whether or not Tom Ryan was with the show till the final day, because a book entitled From Soupy To Nuts! A History of Detroit Television hints on page 18 that he was done with the program in 1970 (Kiska, Tom. From Soupy To Nuts! A History of Detroit Television. Royal Oak, MI: Momentum Books, 2005.). [Note: I have found a number of problems with dates and facts in From Soupy To Nuts! A History of Detroit Television.] This Captain Detroit program took over a time period that had been used by a show featuring a local personality named "Johnny Ginger" (a stage name); his show had run on WKBD-TV Channel 50 from Monday, June 13, 1966, through Friday, April 28, 1967. And this Captain Detroit was not the only Captain Detroit that WKBD-TV aired--I found there was Captain Detroit (as it was listed in television-program-listings publications) on Channel 50 from Monday, December 13, 1965, through Friday, June 10, 1966, and it aired from 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and that is all that I know about the program, right now.
Yet, today, I remember at least somewhat one comedy bit in which Johnny Ginger played a guy crossing a battlefield of sorts (which was really the grounds of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7), and there were explosions going off, and I remember vaguely how Johnny Ginger mentioned on his show one day that he got to play "Billy the Kid" in a theatrical movie featuring The Three Stooges (Larry, Moe, and Curly Joe), which was called The Outlaws is Coming and was released in 1964 (I think he was able to play a clip of the movie on this show), and I will present more details about Johnny Ginger to help make it more clear what Johnny Ginger did in the next edition of T.H.A.T.
While doing research for this edition of T.H.A.T., I came across information about Soupy Sales that I did not have in my files and that led me to doing a little more research about Soupy Sales, whose television career really took off through working on WXYZ-TV, Channel 7, in the 1950s, and because of his working at WXYZ-TV in the 1950s, which was an ABC-TV affiliate, it led to him being seen on ABC-TV affiliates around the country in the 1950s (doing his work from the studios of WXYZ-TV). Some of the programs that he did in the 1950s for WXYZ-TV were Noon Time Comics, 12 O'clock Comics, and Soupy's On (none of which I will talk about in this edition of T.H.A.T. any further), and on ABC-TV, he was seen on a weekly Saturday show called Lunch with Soupy (which I will not talk about anymore in this edition of T.H.A.T.). I stumbled upon a show that had a Western-movie theme that he hosted in the summer of 1954. I have this question for you to answer: What was the name of that show, in which he hosted the showing of Western-type movies? In essence, he hosted the movie show with a horse. What was the name of the horse?
You should find the answers to the two questions posed in the previous paragraph in old copies of television program listings of newspapers or TV Guide.
Since the previous edition of T.H.A.T. was published, I came across something that I think is "for the bad" going on with the Detroit Free Press, which has published program listings in book form for many decades. Attached to at least the TV BOOK for February 11-17, 2007, there was a notice that stated: "This is your last TV book...Unless you let us know! To continue receiving the TV Book with your Sunday Free Press, go to www.iwantmytvbook.com or call 800-395-3300 and press "6"." To help a friend, I contacted the Web site, and I noted for the friend that the TV BOOK was still wanted by the friend. I wonder if some people did not notice the notice and recently found they were not getting the TV BOOK as they had been.
Now, I have these questions (which I am not going to answer for you at anytime soon). Is the day and age of paper-form television-program-listings publications about over? Is the Detroit Free Press trying to do less work for the same money? Has the Detroit Free Press lost sight of what people want for news? Is the newspaper industry in such dire straits that it has to cut back on what is published even more to stop losing money? Are people working in the newspaper industry publishing fewer and fewer words each day because reporters are getting lazy or because reporters are more interested in pushing commentary than facts or because the general quality of reporters is going down? Are newspaper publishers caught in a self-created downward spiral of doing less because they are following the wishes of people who do less and less every day? Do pictures really "tell a thousand words" and enough words, so fewer real words need be published every day? Does the Internet really have everything you need to know?
copyright c. 2007
Date published: March 10, 2007
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