Interviewing Dolly Parton last week brought back a lot of memories from my early days of interviewing musicians.
The idea started while I was working overnights as a master control operator, going to school in the day. I got the show… because I asked.
"Can I use the equipment to make a late night show with local bands? I'll do it off the clock," I asked. And the General Manager said "Go for it."
I'm not sure anyone believed the two of us would make this work, but we ended up airing fifty episodes in two and a half years.
Looking back, it's a study in "fake it until you make it." I learned to edit fast to get the show on the air. Same goes for shooting video. For rookie show bookers living a two hour drive from the nearest large city, we did well.
Our guest list started with local bands, but grew to include Cyndi Lauper, Flaming Lips, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Liz Phair, Blink 182, Tonic, Kula Shaker, The Cranberries, The Cardigans, Moby… if 99X played them, we wanted them. There were a few curve ball interviews, too - Vanilla Ice, Andy Dick, Susan Powter ("Stop the Insanity!"). I'm sure I'm forgetting someone.
We made mistakes (like trying to be SNL in our first few episodes… "The Night Show" archives are heavily guarded, but I sure love to laugh at myself in those early skits!)
Something must have clicked, because eventually we were picked up for syndication through the American Independent TV Network. It beamed us out to dozens of small, independent stations across the country.
We barely made a dime, but we sure made a lot of memories. We also made the distinction of being among the first TV shows in history to also stream online. Unfortunately, those 1999 AOL connections weren't quite fast enough for optimal online viewing - but we were multi-platform in the 90s.
In 2000, our network switched to all-Spanish programming. That was the nudge we needed to get out of the late night business and move to New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina's winds of change set me on course for a career in news. However making "The Night Show" is where that course began.