March 2023 Q&A with Jim Wiener
Our Chief Programming Officer Jim Wiener gets asked a LOT of questions, not just by us, but by all of you as well. Once in a while, he likes to sit down and pick a few particularly special questions and answer them for everyone to see. Here is Jim’s latest Q&A with you, the viewers.
I went to watch the movie The King’s Speech last night. It was so heavily edited, and the frame so severely cropped, it didn’t much resemble the original film. So disappointed. I would love to hear rationale. This is a nearly 2 hour film, so why edit it down to 1 hour and 32 minutes?
Susan B., Kennedy Heights
Good question, and you’re absolutely right. There is NO reason why this film, at approximately 1:58 in length, should have been edited down to 1:32.
Along with 16 other public stations nationwide, ThinkTV14 subscribes to a film package. We know the titles in advance, and the one month we can air them. Movie durations generally come from a source like IMDB and are slightly revised when we get a copy.
But days before The King’s Speech became available, stations received notice of its shorter length. It was, however, not relayed to us that this was a “broadcast version” of the film, so labeled for commercial stations that want a shorter length so that they can fill more air time with commercials.
A number of programmers have made it clear to our film distributor that our viewers expect to see any movie at its theatrical length. If a studio says the only version available is heavily edited, then we expect to have that title switched out for another one.
Not only do we apologize for this oversight, but we want to thank viewers like you who complained about it because that is leverage for us to right a problem!
-Jim Wiener, Programmer
I saw Elmore Leonard: But Don’t Try To Write and it was great. I want to know when and if it will air again so I can tell a friend, who is a crime thriller writer. But I can never figure out how to find that information – unless I’m looking on the schedule on the day something airs. And it’s especially hard to find shows if I don’t have the exact wording of the title. Can you or someone please help?
Christine K., Yellow Springs
First, our digital sub-channel ThinkTV16Again (16.2 over the air or Spectrum 983) was made for you. It repeats blocks of prime time for days after a program’s prime time premiere. So if a program airs in primetime on 16.1, it will repeat on 16.2 exactly 24 hours later.
The same with ThinkTV14.1. It will repeat 24 hours later on 14.2. Prime time shows will also repeat 4-5 more times in different dayparts over the next 3-4 days, but that’s the easy one to remember.
A program can also repeat on our other channels, so if you have access to the web…
- go to our website (www.thinktv.org).
- Click on SCHEDULE
- Cursor down to the grids, find your program and click on the title.
- Below the show’s description, click on ADDITIONAL AIRINGS
A drop down menu will show all the repeat airings on any of our 13 channels. You can also go back in time on the schedule to see additional airings of shows you missed or want to watch again.
Keep in mind, though, that as these repeats air, they drop off that menu. So if NO additional airings show up, then all repeats have aired for the foreseeable future.
I am looking for footage from a special your channel ran in 1979 titled Cincinnati Blues and was wondering if I could possibly view it. I’m looking for as much info as I can on the old blues scene in Cincinnati, I just doubled checked the exact dates and it looks like it was July 21st and July 22nd , it features Big Joe Duskin, Pigmeat Jarrett and some other musicians when it appeared on WCET-TV PBS.
Evan M., California, KY
I’m afraid that when someone asks about a program from before 1990, the odds are slim that we’ll have it archived. This title is among them. We just don’t have it, nor do we have anyone with the “institutional memory” to recall it. Further, we don’t know if it was one of our local programs, or a work for hire that we did for someone else who owns the copyright. There are a handful of shows on YouTube that might be all or a portion of this film.
We do have a few old shows in the archive. ’37 Flood: A Look Back showed film footage of arguably the worst flood in Cincinnati’s history (it was said home plate at Crosley Field was under 20 feet of water!) This 1987 production marked the 50th anniversary of the flood and now it’s been another 35 years since that documentary first aired.
But, in large part, archiving has been a sad story for so many broadcast stations.
Many had little presence of mind to hold on to much of their work. As tape formats changed over the years, stations tended to toss most of their antiquated tapes into the dumpster to make room for the next great format. And TV stations went from film to Quad (2 inch) tape, to 1”, to ¾” to maybe beta-pro, and finally to today’s programs on computer files.
35 years ago (Am I aging myself? Does this make me look fat?), I produced a special for WQED called Pittsburgh’s Original TV Stars. We had 16 guests who starred in local news, talk shows, cooking series and kid shows (including Romper Room and our locally-produced Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood starring you know who). Every metro area nationwide had local celebrities going back to the late 1940s up through the 1960s. Taped segments showed these stars in their heyday. And each one of them said any footage they possessed came from station engineers who went dumpster diving and promised to dub a few of their shows to a newer format.
Nowadays, we can save most anything and put it to some use. For example, CET shot footage for a documentary on King’s Island that was never completed, but long excerpts can be viewed on CET’s YouTube. And there’s hope that what we produce this year and can be available for viewing decades from now. As a system, PBS has done a good job getting its member stations to archive its work and make it available to its viewers and members, but that work can’t bring back shows that are already gone.
Finally, a question getting back to the blues: what’s with artists and using the same nicknames? There was Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Arnold “Gatemouth” Moore. Did Big Joe Turner tell Big Joe Duskin to change his name to “Little Joe?” Would Mr. Duskin have THEN heard from lawyers representing BONANZA telling him there’s only one Little Joe, and that was Michael Landon!
And I remember Pigmeat Markham. Dewey Martin was a comedian/actor/singer whose career spanned from Bessie Smith to the Ed Sullivan Show. But Pigmeat Jarrett, the blues pianist? This long-time Cincinnati resident as born 4 ½ years before Markham and both had careers in the 1920s, so who borrowed from whom would make a good debate.
But, as usual, I digress. If the footage from this 1979 blues show exists, it might be on YouTube.