(Television History and Trivia)




Victor Edward Swanson,


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- - - T.H.A.T., Edition No. 44 - - -

    Since the previous edition of T.H.A.T. was published (which was on November 10, 2007), I have done much more research about the early days of television in the Detroit area; for example, I purposely did work to discover when the "midwest television network" was connected to Detroit (or when the AT&T telephone cables and microwaves systems were set up and could be used by television stations and television networks, which took place in September 1948), and I purposely did work to find out when the "midwest television network" was connected with the "eastern television network," which happened in January 1949 and which allowed live programming to be sent between, for instance, the East Coast and Detroit  (more on these subjects will come later).  In addition, I added information about recently aired television programs, many of which were network-type shows and a few of which were locally produced shows (or programs produced by various entities for Detroit-based television stations).  To give you something different, I have made part of this edition of T.H.A.T. a review of some recently produced television shows for Detroit-area television stations, which is a form of "editorializing," and the remainder of this edition has other stuff, which cannot be called a part of "editorializing."

    Because television-program listings of publications are weak in providing information that can give you an idea that a local production is airing at a certain time, you may be unaware of many of the programs or even all the programs that I am about to tell you about.

    On Friday, November 16, 2007, I was running through the channels, and I came upon a syndicated show entitled Jury Duty, which was airing in the first half hour of the three o'clock hour on WADL-TV, Channel 38, which is based in Mt. Clemens, which is a northern suburb of Detroit.  I watched the program, since it is a new program for syndication, premiering for the 2007-2008 season, and I would catch some credits of the show for my files.  At one point during the showing of the show, the station broadcast a commercial for a television show that I was unaware of.  After seeing the commercial, I tried to find the program listed in several television-program listings, and I did not see it listed.  Knowing the program was supposed to air, I stayed with the station till the program came on the air at 4:00 p.m.  The program was D Party: The Ultimate Dance Show.

    There is now a new locally produced dance show being aired by a Detroit-area-based television station!

    In the past, there have been other dance shows, some of which I note here.  In the 1950s, WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) had Ed McKenzie's Saturday Party.  In the 1960s, Robin Seymour hosted Swingin' Time on Channel 9, CKLW-TV (Windsor, Ontario, Canada).  In the 1970s and 1980s, Channel 62 was known as WGPR-TV, and the station carried a program called The Scene.

    When D Party: The Ultimate Dance Show began to be shown on Friday, October 16, 2007, I called the television station.  I asked this general question: "What day was the first day for D Party: The Ultimate Dance Show?" The gal on the telephone line said that it was last Monday.

    Here are some facts about the show.  D Party: The Ultimate Dance Show can informally be called D Party.  The show is hosted by a cute gal named SunShyne and by a guy named Big Dogg Blast.  The show is scheduled to air on weekdays at 4:00 p.m. and run for a half hour each day, and an episode is shown on Saturday at 10:30 p.m.  The show is shot in a studio (Plan B Night Club was listed on the credits of the first show that I saw), and the hosts do their duties with a group of teenage dancers around them.  The guys and gals--who were the dancers--were local teenagers and nicely dressed.  Also, on the show caught, there was a disc jockey identified as DJ MoBeatz, who presented the music, and a guy named Freshboy Tim--called a "choreographer"--gave a little dance instruction.  Besides dancing, some of the gals were highlighted in a fashion-dance segment.

    Generally speaking, the program was watchable and worthwhile (with respect to what it was supposed to be).

    I have to make two notes about the program.  The weakest segment of the show was the fashion-dance segment, since the gals who took part were a little "stiff."  They need to take some lessons from Tyra Banks, who would probably have them "sell it" better, loosen up, smile more, have fun, and do other things that good models are more likely to do.  Also, the end credits did not clearly list the name of the company that produced the show (it bothers me when such information is not presented).

    "For the record," I report, here, the credits from the show caught were: Kevin Adell (executive producer); Larry Moore (executive producer); Lewis Gibbs (executive producer); Larry  Moore (producer); Ken E (co-producer); Isaiah Murray (co-producer); Ken E (director); Isaiah Murray (floor manager); EM Productions (editor); Mike Burke (video engineer); Doug Kaer (technical director); Tony Leja (audio); Scott Staton (jib operator); CJ Johnson and Brian Hewitt (camera operators); Lavree Moore, Erica Coleman, Carla Page, Jennifer Webb, and Aisha Williams (production assistants); Joe Parise (gaffer); Tom Scott (grip/utility); and Nebula (opening music produced).  The copyright credit had A Marketech Production.

    I have seen all the television reviews in Variety from 1972 to today and I have see hundreds of the television reviews in Variety from the 1940s to the 1970s, and if I were writing a review to be published in Variety (which has not really carried "local reviews" or reviews of shows produced by stations for local audences in decades), I could report that the "technical credits were good."

    Incidentally, young guys and gals, you can try to become a dancer on D Party: The Ultimate Dance Show by calling 1-313-877-9999.

    WADL-TV is not a television station that is known for making programs, unlike such other Detroit-area-based television stations as WDIV-TV (Channel 4) and WXYZ-TV (Channel 7), both of which have been around since the 1940s (there have been ownership changes with the stations since the 1940s, though).  Recently--on November 17, 2007, at 7:00 p.m.--WDIV-TV aired a program that it had made--America's Thanksgiving Parade Preview.  WXYZ-TV produced and aired Night of Lights at Campus Martius Park on November 16, 2007, at 7:30 p.m., and the program was shown live.

    Because WDIV-TV and WXYZ-TV have been around for decades, I report that the quality of the programs associated with them that are listed in the previous paragraph were weak.  A big reason that America's Thanksgiving Parade Preview (of WDIV-TV) was weak is some of the voice-over segments were "muddy," and "muddy" means that the audio was not clear and crisp (the "muddy" pieces should not have been allowed to be "muddy").  The main reason that Night of Lights at Campus Martius Park (of WXYZ-TV) was weak is it had too many audio problems--for instance, sometimes, the singing of the singers could not be heard (because the microphones were not placed properly) and, sometimes, the audio did not sync up properly with the video (you might have seen such a problem in a show in the past--you know--the mouths are moving and the sounds are not there or the mouths are not moving and the sounds are there).

    I could talk about other recently produced local television shows, but I will not--almost.  Daniel Brian and Associates was credited as the producer of the edition of Minds of Medicine, which was hosted by Paul W. Smith, that was shown by WXYZ-TV on November 17, 2007.  It was hard to read the end credits of the program.  Ugh!   (Minds of Medicine is a once-and-a-while program that has been around since about the start of the decade.)

    While I do research about the television shows produced in Detroit in the 1940s, I wonder if the quality of the programs could be called better, equal, or worse than the quality of the shows produced today.  In regards to technical aspects, the shows of the 1940s could be called worse, given that the equipment of the 1940s was not as good as the equipment of today (though I have shown through this edition of T.H.A.T. that WDIV-TV and WXYZ-TV, established big-time stations, have done poor work recently).  In regards to talent, the television shows of the 1940s might have had better people than the television shows of today.

    I have discovered that the people who could be called "talent" or "on-air talent" for television in the 1940s were often people who had been writers for newspapers for some time, as Jean McBride and Tony Weitzel had been, had served in the military during World War II, as Ted Grace had done, or were good musicians, as Mischa Kottler was, and what I have found is the early on-air-talent people were not pretty-looking or young-looking people, and, in fact, they were not young and inexperienced people.

    In 1978, J.P. McCarthy was an experienced radio talent, and in the fall of 1978, he did a television series for WDIV-TV.  In the previous edition of T.H.A.T., I told you his show was a show focusing on the Detroit Lions (the professional football team based in Detroit), but I did not tell you the name of the show.  The show was entitled J.P. and the Detroit Lions.  In the previous edition of T.H.A.T., I asked if you knew who the co-host of the program was.  The answer is Charlie Sanders.  ("For the record," I note that the current "Ford Lions Report" show, which is shown on WWJ-TV on Sunday mornings, is hosted by Frank Beckman (who is regularly heard on WJR-AM on weekdays in the late morning), and the co-host is Roy Williams, who is a receiver for the Detroit Lions).

    Let me talk about two dates in history--September 20, 1948, and January 11, 1949.  From June 3, 1947, through early September 20, 1949, the television-network programming that people in the Detroit area could see on television sets was recorded programing (not on videotape, of course, but on film, such as some type of Kinescope recording), and, at the time, the only television station that was broadcasting commercially in Detroit was WWJ-TV, which was associated with the NBC Television Network (launched on November 4, 1946).  On September 20, 1949, AT&T (a telephone company, which operated long-distance telephone line systems in the country) opened up a system--made up of microwave relays, co-axial cables, and associated equipment--that allowed a handful of cities or,  in essence, a handful of television stations in several cities to be linked, and the AT&T linking system was called the "midwest network," which was not officially a "television network," but the network could be used by television networks or television stations to send programming (electronic signal information) between cities.  On September 20, 1948, WWJ-TV could receive programming-signal information live from several other cities, such as St. Louis, and broadcast that signal information to people in the Detroit area.  WXYZ-TV went on the air commercially on October 9, 1948, and it could get ABC Television Network programming off the midwest network when programming was available, and WJBK-TV went on the air commercially on October 24, 1948, and WJBK-TV, which started out as an affiliate of the CBS Television Network and an affiliate of the DuMont TV network at the same time, could be connected to the AT&T network system.  For about two years before September 20, 1948, AT&T had already been operating a network to link cities or television stations or television networks in the East for about two years, and that means on September 20, 1948, AT&T had--available to television stations or television networks--a network along the East Coast of the U.S. and a network in the midwestern region of the U.S., but the two networks were not connected, so live programming signals could not be passed easily between the two networks. (Remember: By the way, television networks and television stations paid AT&T money to use AT&T's systems.)  On January 11, 1949, the first programming could finally be sent easily between the two networks, because AT&T had set up a link of co-axial cables and microwave equipment between the two networks, and arond the time of January 11, 1949, ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and NBC-TV had to share the link between the two networks because there was, in essence, only one line (each network was given specific times when it could send programming down the line to affiliates, such as from a New York headquarters to all the stations in the eastern U.S. and all the stations the midwestern U.S. or from a Chicago headquarters to all the stations in the midwestern U.S. and all the stations in the eastern U.S.).


    I note in the talk about the two AT&T networks that the two networks were officially used on January 11, 1949, but the networks were linked temporarily before that date; for instance, World Series games (baseball games) were played on October 8, 1948, October 9, 1948, and October 10, 1948, and those games were seen on the existing television stations in Detroit because the eastern network and the midwestern network were linked by using an airborne airplane as part of the microwave link system.   (For the record, I note that WWJ-TV and WJBK-TV aired the game played on October 8, 1948, and WJBK-TV aired the game on an experimental basis (having been given special permission from the FCC to do several special broadcasts), and WWJ-TV, WJBK-TV, and WXYZ-TV aired the game of October 9, 1948, and they aired the game of October 10, 1948, and it is noted that WJBK-TV aired both games on an experimental basis.)

    For a short while, the connection between the two AT&T networks was, in essence, only one line, so each of the four main networks--ABC-TV, CBS-TV, DuMont, and NBC-TV--had special times each day during which it could send programming to affiliates, and, to date, I do not know when more than one line existed, but I have found an article in The Detroit News that hinted more lines were to be opened by June 1949, and when more lines were opened to Detroit from the East Coast network headquarters (or broadcast centers), the real battle between the networks to pull in viewers in Detroit could take place during prime time.

    While doing research about the early years of television in the Detroit area, I wonder what the shows were like at the time and what the people were like--I have already hinted that the talent on the early television shows could not be called models or model-types.  I get the impression the people were probably like a gal name Nancy Lieman, who at this time is celebrating twenty-five years of hosting a television show that is being shown on a weekly basis on PBS-associated stations (I saw an episode of the show on WCMU-TV, Mt. Pleasant (in Isabella County of the Lower Peninsula), within the past month).  I ask you now--"What television shows has Nancy Lieman hosted for about twenty-five years?"  That question I shall answer in the next edition of T.H.A.T., and I hope you come up with the correct answer before you see and read the next edition of T.H.A.T.

Stay well!


copyright c. 2007
Date published: December 10, 2007

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