Aircheck: WTVT-TV, 1975

If you haven’t heard yet, long time WTVT weatherman (better known these days as Fox 13 in Tampa) Roy Leep passed away yesterday (June 1, 2021) at age 88.

This video was released by Fox 13 yesterday – what appears to do a demo tape of sorts of the WTVT weather studios. What’s amazing about this is that it was shot in 1975. Cable TV was relatively new, as were computers and domestic use of videotape.

Leep must have gotten so many requests from schools and the generally curious to tour the facilities that he found it easier to just show everything on videotape – such as tape was in the mid-1970’s. For its era, it was very impressive!

The number of youngsters Roy inspired – who knows. I imagined he inspired the minds of many, and impressed upon us the importance of taking weather seriously when it threatens us.

Aircheck: NBC-TV, 12/2/1959

I haven’t done an Aircheck segment in a while – and I thought today would be a good day to re-introduce the segment to you. It’s good to take a break from the tumult in our world every now and then, right?

Recently, I had the chance to read the Adam Nadeff book about Bill Cullen, who I believe still holds the record for the most game shows hosted or participated in during a career at somewhere around 30. Unless there’s a sudden proliferation of game shows on network TV or syndication again (which seems unlikely in today’s media climate), it’s probably a record that will go unbroken.

In my estimations, I have Bill Cullen and Bob Barker first and second on my list as to whom I’d want to pick to host a game show if I could pick anyone from all of time somehow. Barker did one show better than anyone, whereas Cullen did an earlier incarnation of the same show – and did several others with great professionalism.

YouTuber Adam Curry posted this from late 1959 – an airing of The Price Is Right in its original format as it aired on NBC.

Aircheck: PBS, 1989

This is a documentary I stumbled upon last week, called “Ridin’ The Dog.”

PBS and British television co-released this in 1989 – looking at one Greyhound bus trip from Seattle to Chicago, and the lives of those who ride and those who drive and house the passengers. If you’ve ever ridden on Greyhound, you probably understand this a bit more than those who have never ridden aboard a long-distance bus – but that’s just my guess. I’ve been one a Greyhound three times for cross-country trips, so I guess it registered with me.

The late historian and broadcaster Studs Terkel is the narrator.

Aircheck: WBFF (Baltimore), 4/1/1994

Throughout the history of television, there have been many attempts to make the game of Bingo a successful program. They all share one thing in common: none of them were all that successful.

Here’s one of the more unique attempts back in 1994 – taking the game of Bingo and making it part of a larger talk show. It only aired in the Baltimore TV market back in early 1994, though there were eventual plans to syndicate the half-hour show and make it seen nationwide.

More interesting here is who is hosting the show – Bob Marella, Caron Tate, and Sean Mooney. If you’re a wrestling fan of that era, Mooney should be familiar to you – but who’s that Marella fella? Yep, that’s Gorilla Monsoon – using his real name. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan also winds up making a cameo on this April Fool’s Day episode, making one last televised appearance with long-time real-life bubby Marella.

Aircheck: CBS, 1990s

This is sometime during the 1990s on the CBS game show, The Price Is Right. It would have to be 1995 or some point earlier because Holly Hallstrom is one of the models (the redhead in the darker dress) – and was fired from the show that year.

Here, a pricing game called “Hole In One (Or Two)” is being played. Contestants line up grocery items so that the cheapest priced are farther away while the more expensive items are closer to the hole. If the lineup is in perfect order, the contestant wins a small cash prize (back then, $500) – but for each correct answer, he or she gets to make a golf putt closer to the hole while an incorrect answer stops the advancement from where the putt is made from. If they make the putt in one or two attempts, they win a car.

Ella was a fun contestant – and is worth watching this segment to the very end with her incredible second attempt.

Aircheck: WNBC (New York), 8/25/1977

In case you missed it over the holidays, radio talk show host and DJ Don Imus passed away last week.

I first heard about Imus back in the 80’s thanks to a cousin of mine who lived on and off in New York City. How can I describe Imus to anyone who never heard him? I think of him as being “cutting edge” at one point of his career – more or less using bits and methods that Howard Stern would later perfect.

Tbe “Billy Sol Hargis” bit struck me as the most funny – where Don voices a fictional Texas evangelist (though the character is based on real-life evangelist Billy Sol Estes somewhat) who would ask listeners for donations in exchange for products of a dubious nature.

Imus would wind up simulcasted in Tampa – first on WQYK, later on WTAN from the 90’s onward. By then, the show wasn’t as catered to sophomoric bits and hijinks as it once was, but still engaged of plenty of satire. I’d watch his MSNBC show in the late 90’s and wonder a few times how he would get away with saying something controversial. Blackmail? Stock ownership?

When the show said disparriging things about the Rutgers women’s basketball team one time in 2000’s – everyone who vouched for him over time could (mostly) do it no more, and everyone who wanted him gone finally got their wish. Even with those remarks, he still found work on WABC and the Fox Business Network – saying there until his retirement in 2018.

Yes, he was a controversial figure – few people in that business are successful these days without controversy. However, very few people in the media industry let you see who they really are – and Imus was in that sense one of a kind.

The Reluctant Bombshell

Word broke yesterday that a piece of video had surfaced where ABC News personality Amy Robach has a conversation on a “hot mic” while not on the air. In that conversation, she mentioned working on a news piece chronicling the late Jeffrey Epstein, the alleged pedophile with reported ties to the political and Hollywood elite.

I’ve personally heard rumor and innuendo going back to 2016 about Epstein from friends and relatives. Like many out there, Robach doesn’t believe Epstein committed suicide – but was murdered.

It is not a surprise if the media outlet was covering up for those higher up the food chain. That seems to happen with great regularity one way or another. I just wonder how long they can continue to get away with this and how deep such rabbit holes go. Sooner or later, everyone gets caught – it’s just a matter of when time or the law catches up with you.

The Shepherd Of Questionable Merit

When someone told me that Shepherd Smith had quit on the air a little after 4pm this past Friday, I was dumbfounded. There were rumors on social media of infighting between Shep and some of their other talent – but Smith had been there over a couple of decades, so I thought he was more or less untouchable.

I often say on here that at the age of 48, I often find parallels between current events and events from history. Smith’s exodus (or firing) reminded me of how Brent Musburger met the axe at CBS in 1990, and how no one really expected it or explained it in great detail.

News organizations are different beasts, and perhaps in this day and age obsolete ones. They tell you what you think is relevant when what they really do is insult your intelligence and play games of psychology on you. No wonder these media organizations openly collude with politicians to spin what they say the truth is.

They’d tell you anything to keep you around – so I guess the moral here is not to stay around.

Aircheck: ABC/Reagan Library, 5/23/1984

In posting this, I’m unsure of two things.

First, I’m assuming ABC aired this interview at some point, though I can’t remember off-hand whether or not ABC News or ABC Sports aired this. Conceivably, either department could have aired the interview – or both could have.

Secondly, could this have been the last time Howard Cosell had the chance to interview Reagan? I don’t know. Cosell was yanked off of ABC television (but stayed on to do his radio work) the following year when his book, I Never Played The Game, was released. Off hand, I’d have to think Howard probably got the chance to interview him in the intervening year – perhaps during that year’s Olympics in Los Angeles.

Their respective styles seem to play well off of each other here. In today’s political climate where anything “Blue” seems to hate everything “Red” that Cosell, who was a staunch Democrat (and bandied the idea of running for Senate in the 70’s) and Reagan were respectful and complimentary of each other.

Flashback: “More, More, More” by the Andrea True Connection

Until Stormy Daniels or someone else in adult films records a bigger hit record (and stranger things in pop music have happened), this is the biggest US pop hit performed by a porn star, going to #4 in 1976 for Andrea True.

Aircheck: CBS, 7/20/1969

As this clip begins, it is roughly 4:12pm Eastern time on Sunday afternoon, July 20, 1969, The lunar module of the Apollo 11 spacecraft is a few minutes shy of touchdown on the lunar surface – the first such attempt in manned space flight history.

It was a moment of high tension – a lot of things had to go right on the way to the moon and back, and as we nearly learned with Apollo 13 a few months later, potential disaster and tests of fate always seemed to be lurking. But on those eight days that wound up being the greatest adventure Man has yet to take – things went remarkably smoothly, all things considering.

The landing created the most tension, which is why I’m showing this – and not the moon walk itself. There are a few computer alarms that made the scheduling of the landing itself a bit tighter, and when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin finally touched down – they used up all but a few seconds of the fuel budgeted for the landing. Had they run out – they would have had to cancel the landing at the last moment and go back home unsuccessfully, and let Apollo 12 take the next crack at it.

A remarkable feat made even more so by the commentary of Walter Cronkite and astronaut Wally Schirra – who let the audio coming from Apollo 11 paint the pictures for the most part. In the end, even the hardened Cronkite was at a loss for words at the accomplishment, simply saying – “Man on the moon!”