(Television History and Trivia)
Victor Edward Swanson,
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- - - T.H.A.T., Edition No. 46 - - -
Since the previous edition of T.H.A.T. was published, I have caught advertisements on television in the Detroit that note that television will be better when the transition is officially made from analog to digitial in February 2009 (specifically on February 17, 2009), and what is noted is how much better the picture will be and how much better the sound will be, and there will be more channels, though I could argue well--and may soon--that there are enough channels in existence now (and I am not even taking into consideration the "subchannels" that exist and the more that will exist from television stations).
Let me talk briefly about "subchannels." In essence, today, a television station involved with analog broadcasting will broadcast one video signal--the television channel (that has been a rule since at least the 1940s). When a television station does digital broadcasting, the station is actually able to broadcast a main channel and subchannels. For example, WXYZ-TV broadcasts only WXYZ-TV when it broadcasts in the analog format, and when the station broadcasts in digital form (as WXYZ-DT), the station broadcasts at the same time its regular channel (or main channel), which, by the way, happens to air programming of the ABC-TV network, and subchannels, one of which is or will be the Retro Television Network. Now, you are aware of subchannels, if you were not before seeing this document.
Let me return to the theme involving that advertisement about television becoming better in the digital days--I am not convinced that television will be better in the digital days. The only thing that will change for the better--if it really matters--is the picture will be more sharp or detailed on true television sets (many people think the way to watch television is to see it on wireless devices like digital PCS phones, which offer tiny screens). I will say, for your money, when the digital transition officially takes place, you will simply get more repeats, more multiple runs, more incidents of one program being shown on more than one channel at the same time (as already happens with such shows as The Suite Life of Zach & Cody, Hannah Montana, and That's So Raven,) and more and more reality shows, many of which are filled with unlikeable people.
In the previous edition of T.H.A.T., I talked a bit about WHPR-TV, Channel 33, which is one of the low-power television stations in the Detroit, and since I published the previous edition, I have found a little more about WHPR-TV that I have to talk about. On Monday, January 14, 2008, I caught a program on the station that was entitled H.T.'s Video Memories (it was shown from about 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.). The program was hosted by Henry Tyler, and the main purpose of Henry Tyler's program was to show video clips of musical groups and musical performers from the past, such as the 1960s and 1970s. The performers shown in clips on the show were The Bar-Kays, Brenda Holloway, The Radiance, The Flirtations, Barry White, Tony Clarke, The Cod's, The Impressions (with Curtis Mayfield), David Ruffin, Freda Payne, Johnny Taylor, The Chairmen of the Board, and The Four Tops. I enjoyed seeing the performers and being reminded of some of the tunes that local radio stations that are based on playing "oldies" do not play today because they have short play lists, as they have for years. (I say that people when surveyed about what songs from the past they like do have a tendency to not mention more songs that they like than they do because they forget songs and the names of songs, and that is why an "oldies" stations can end up with a shorter play list than it should.) H.T'.s Video Memories seems to be a weekly show or was a weekly show on cable, and I will say that the production for the episode of show that I caught was a little weak--for example, the transitions from song clip to song clip were sloppy. Given what was on the other television stations at the time the program was shown, I can say that H.T'.s Video Memories was a good counter-programming piece. During the show, Mr. Tyler said that people could request tunes by calling 1-313-868-6612 or by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Incidentally, the end of the episode of H.T'.s Video Memories that I saw on January 14, 2008, did not have any end credits, even a copyright date, so I cannot officially report whether or not the episode was made recently.
Over the next two weeks, I happened to catch the same episode a couple more times, and I was disappointed a new episode or at least another episode was not shown, but I can add that, if you like to listen to oldies, you might try to see H.T'.s Video Memories, which gives you not only those old-favorite songs through the speakers but also the performers of those old-favorite songs on the screen.
I have to report the information about WHPR-TV (Channel 33) as a reviewer. On weekday evenings, around the eleven o'clock hour, the station seems to play a program called Turbulence, which seems to be under the control of R.J. Watkins, Jr., and Carter (as noted at the begining of programs.) Turbulence is a disjointed mess, and it is even unlikeable or not likeable. I have seen bad locally produced programs in the past, and of all the bad locally produced programs that I have seen over the years, Turbulence is at the top of the list. For my files, I cannot clearly say what it is, but it does play some videos.
For the betterment of WHPR-TV, WHPR-TV should air Henry Tyler's likeable H.T'.s Video Memories instead of Turbulence at 11:00 p.m. (however, the production of H.T'.s Video Memories needs to be improved).
And now I have this section to this document as a "for the record" report, which covers some of the locally produced programming that I saw in January 2008 on WHPR-TV. Generally speaking, the daytime schedule was filled with locally based talk shows, each of which was usually one-hour long. One of the talk shows that was shown on weekdyas during the mid-day (the times varied) was The J.D. Hill Morning Show, and sometimes J.D. Hill was actually in the studio as the host, and often other individuals did the hosting duties. By the way, these talk shows are one-camera shows that remind me of shows that I read about in weekly Variety for the DuMont Network in the early 1950s--in the early 1950s, DuMont often had one-camera productions when it should not have had, and such shows were visually static (I note that DuMont might have been good in the technical aspects of television, such as the creating and making of television transmitters and television sets in the early 1950s, but DuMont was often lax in the entertainment production aspects of shows). I must report that the audio of the talk shows on WHPR-TV were simulcast on WHPR-AM. During the day, the station sometimes showed a program called Video Request, each of which is a half-hour block of videos (usually rap-style and hip-hop-style videos). In the prime-time periods, some of the programs that I caught were Dion Television, Primetime Television, and Who Wants to Be a Star? Who Wants to Be a Star? was hosted by D.J. Taxi, and the executive producers (listed) were Richard Jennings, Rich Nunn, and R.J. Watkins. The host of Dion Television (a.k.a. D-TV) was D. (Showtime), and the executive producer was Dion Norman. For the moment, I do not have the hosts of Primetime Television listed in my files, but I do know the show had at least two hosts. Also, WHPR-TV had a program called B.R.S.L. Network, which was like a bulletin-board program and had a voice-over announcer making announcements about, for isntance, products for sale.
Incidentally, during some of the video programs, I saw the video entitled Turbulence Remix (put together it seems by DJ Maestro), and this Turbulence Remix should not be confused with the program entitled Turbulence; the video is a fast-paced dance number, which, while the music runs, shows young guys and gals dancing in a studio or club, and it happens to be a good dance piece.
Here is related thought. Since last season, I have noticed Channel 20, WMYD-TV, has been carrying the program called The Best of Soul Train, which is a weekly program that has gone back in time to call up and show old episodes of Soul Train that were hosted by Don Cornelius, the original host of Soul Train, which began on October 2, 1971 (in syndication), and I have not seen any new Soul Train programs on the station, because the production company has stopped making new programs. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, especially the 1970s, the music industry had pop music and R&B that had a likeable tone, and Don Cornelius had numerous likeable performers to fill time in his weekly Soul Train series, and, incidentally, some of the performers came out of the Detroit area. Since the early 1990s, Soul Train has had to rely on using so much hip-hop-type music and rap music, much of which is unlikeable in tone. I wonder it if has been the rise in rap and even hip-hop, especially that angry stuff, that helped destroy Soul Train (of course, Soul Train never did play the really unlikeable rap) Remember: Dance shows have to have fun tunes that people can feel good about, and rap gets to be tiring on a dance show. (Oh, back in the late 1980s, when people were really beginning to use the term "hip-hop," I began to think of better hip-hop as "hip-pop," and one good example of "hip-hop" is the CD entitled Raw Like Sushi, in which it is somewhat said: ...stop the scratching and give me a beat.)
Now, I move on to other business.
Here, I give you the answer to a question posed in the previous edition of T.H.A.T. In the previous edition of T.H.A.T., I talked about the Junior Miss Pageant program that aired on Friday, March 15, 1968, and I asked this question--"Who was the host and who was the hostess?" The answer to the question is Lorne Greene and Joanie Sommers.
Let me talk about CBS Reports. I noticed recently that CBS-TV seems to have resurrected the umbrella titles for new programs entitled CBS Reports. On Saturday, February 2, 2008, CBS-TV aired at program under that umbrella title to show a program called Two Years with the Iowa National Guard. I did a quick search in my files, and based on the research, I can say that CBS-TV used the CBS Reports moniker regularly from the late 1950s to the early 1980s, and then from the early 1980s to the early 1990s, CBS-TV only used the umbrella title a few times, and the previous last program to be labelled a presentation of CBS Reports that I could find in my files was D-Day, which was shown on May 26, 1994. A few of the past CBS Reports that I have listed in my files are Money and the Next President (October 27, 1960), Harvest of Shame (November 25, 1960), The Battle Over Panama (November 1, 1977), Showdown in Iran (January 23, 1979), and The Battle for Afghanistan (July 29, 1987). What surprised me is my files have three cards associated with programs about television--You and Your Commercials (April 26, 1973), Inside Public Television (April 20, 1976), and Don't Touch That Dial (December 23, 1982), which dealt with prime-time television.
I think it is harder to find pleasant new programs on television today than in, for instance, the 1960s. If you watch a lot of the contestants on prime-time games shows and prime-time reality shows, many of the contestants are unpleasant, and many can be irritating. From time to time, a viewer can find pleasant productions.
Here are two pleasant characters: Michelle and Jason. Jason is a little boy, who wears glasses, and Michelle is a little girl, who wears glasses. Oh, they are brother and sister. And Jason and Michelle are cute. They have a grandma. They have friends. In fact, they have four friends who are penguins. Who are the four main friends of Michelle and Jason, and in what series can Michelle and Jason be seen today?
Yes, that question of the previous paragraph is the question that you are supposed to answer before you see the next edition of T.H.A.T.
copyright c. 2008
Date published: February 10, 2008
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