Straight Up – Mondays on UHF Ch. 30

•  Watch! As Seals and Crofts and I bore a very small audience to death in 1974

•  Took 13 years before anybody would let me on TV again

•  The gatekeepers of Public Television must have been stoned that week

This is the 60th post on this blog since I began chronicling the professional part of my life. This episode might be the most unprofessional moment of all.

Yes, a “program for and by the young audience” needed a youthful host. All of 26, I was the news director of the top-rated FM rock station in Toledo. The public TV station, WGTE-TV, asked me to be the face of Straight Up.

And I say, with a straight face, that first of all I thought that was a dumb name for the show. “Honest and straightforward” was presumably the message the show’s producers were going for. But it could also mean a drink served with no ice . . a good name for Playboy After Dark (with guests Monk or Miles playing Straight, No Chaser). I mean, just the word “straight” was a problem for me; a wide swath of the young audience of 1974 was significantly not straight.

Anyway, if this clip is any indication, we have proof that video very nearly killed the radio star. See if you can spot the cascading television no-nos. There will be a quiz.

Just for starters:

  1. Find the camera
  2. Look at it
  3. Don’t read notes
  4. Smile, don’t scowl

Now, for the scintillating interview, with its tantalizing glimpse of rock stars at sound check, unfiltered:

(This has been somehow preserved on a VHS cassette in a dusty box for 45 years, so, all things considered, it’s surprisingly semi-watchable . . . from a tech standpoint)

By the way, the topic under discussion was the skyrocketing prices of rock concerts, which were getting up around $4 to $6 dollars, and, according to one of my guests who had recently been in New York City on business, were already up to $8 or more there!

Finally, the funniest part. Years later, when I started doing TV work at GMA and CNN, I learned why talk shows are not conducted in swivel chairs. No one apparently, at WGTE, had integrated that concept . . . or mentioned it to me. Hilarious:

Now that I think about it, there could be one valid reason for doing this show in swivel chairs: to confirm and document the magnitude of our bell-bottoms.


Leave a Reply