In the early days of the World Wide Web, I fell in love with a couple of websites. One was Ash Wakeman’s humor site, “The World Famous Mullet Watch” (defunct since 1996.) The other was “Avocado Memories,” Wes Clark’s personal account of growing up in Burbank in the 1970s, seen through the lens of his dad’s bad home decor ideas. These sites got me thinking about doing my own, but I wanted a unique topic.
A frustrating question occasionally popped up between me and a co-worker in the early to mid-1990s: what was that crazy theme music from Fantastic Theater? Fantastic Theater was a 1960s Channel 2 weekend late-night TV program featuring old sci-fi/horror movies.) Having become a fan over the years of musically challenging groups such as Weather Report and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, it came over me at some point that, in retrospect, the weird, energetic electronic music had been something special. We attacked the question in several ways, including calling the station and talking with the former host of the show, Josef Peter Hardt, but failed to unearth any useful information.
Yet another local sci-fi/horror late-night show had caught my fancy in 1971: The Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting on Channel 6. I was so eaten up with it and its hilarious host, Dr. Mazeppa Pompazoidi, that I had audiotaped many of the host segments. Those tapes were still in my possession in late 1998. I also had a postcard photo of local weatherman/ventriloquist Lee Woodward and King Lionel, a witty lion puppet who bantered audaciously on-camera with the news team. When the Fantastic Theater theme music question surfaced again, I realized that I had my topic: Tulsa TV.
Once I got a rudimentary “Memories of old Tulsa TV” site launched, I got serious about tracking down the weird music. I recorded myself warbling the oddly time-signatured instrumental tune and emailed the embarrassing WAV file to a couple of experts on older electronic music. Both identified the tune as “Sonik Re-Entry,” performed and recorded by Dutch composers Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan in 1957. What a relief it was to finally hear it again! I immediately shared it with the readers of the site, by then renamed “Tulsa TV Memories.”
Since then, the readers and I have talked about famous and obscure personalities of Tulsa TV, from both in front of and behind the camera. The scope of the site quickly expanded to include Tulsa radio, drive-in theaters, counterculture of the 70s and other locally-related pop culture. There are two “Channel Changers” loaded with site topics. TTM now contains thousands of images, many YouTube clips and sound files and nearly a thousand individual pages.
Many of those who were part of Tulsa TV history have participated over the last twelve years and many still do. Anyone can join the running conversation—I have no background in media other than the site.
As Uncle Zeb always closed his show: I’ll be lookin’ fur ya!
Mike Ransom is the webmaster of Tulsa TV Memories.
Note: This article was originally published on January 17, 2011