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In the 1960s, nearly every TV station across the country had dance shows like “Teen Time.” You’d stick a local disc jockey (preferably from the TV station’s co-owned radio station, if available) in a spare studio, grab whatever rock act was visiting town that week, and invite the local kids to dance on camera. If there wasn’t any “name” band in town, the station could always book one of the local groups, eager for exposure.
Sometimes the band or singer actually performed live, but more often than not, they “lip-synced” to a recording of their most recent hit. It was cheap weekday entertainment to fill the hours after school let out, but before the evening news and prime-time programs took over.
Pittsburgh, for instance, had a dance show hosted on KDKA-TV by Clark Race. WIIC-TV’s “Come Alive” was hosted by several different DJs, including Terry Lee of WMCK (1360). And I’m reasonably sure that someone hosted one on WTAE-TV, too. (Jay Michael, I think. In one of Rick Sebak’s specials, there’s a clip of The Skyliners singing “Pennies From Heaven” on the roof of WTAE in Wilkinsburg.)
Readers in Altoona and Johnstown can let us know what TV stations in their cities ran. (Use the comments below.)
The 1988 John Waters movie “Hairspray,” which was turned into a Broadway musical and then … erm … back into a movie this year … portrayed a fictional Baltimore TV dance party called “The Corny Collins Show.” Waters has said “Corny Collins” was based on the real-life “Buddy Deane Show,” which aired on Baltimore’s WJZ-TV from 1957 through 1964.
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Shows like these faded away when bands were no longer willing to make appearances on local TV stations, and when it became easier and cheaper to plug sitcom reruns and made-for-syndication series like “The People’s Court” into afternoon slots.
The clip below is part of “Mel’s Rock Pile,” the pitch-perfect parody of teen dance party TV shows that ran on Canada’s late, lamented “SCTV.” Eugene Levy played the DJ, “Rockin’ Mel Slirrup,” an aging hipster who was trying hard to relate to the kids. He made Del Curtis look positively smooth by comparison.
Unfortunately, this clip (also on YouTube) doesn’t include any of the sarcastic remarks that smirking teen-agers would make to Mel before each “show,” but it does include a terrific live performance by real-life musical guest Roy Orbison.
You can buy “SCTV” on DVD now, thanks to Shout Factory. No one has rounded up enough footage from shows like “Come Alive,” “Teen Time” and “Buddy Deane” to fill a DVD set, but if they ever did, I’d buy one.
Put on your poodle skirts and saddle shoes, girls! Guys, get out the Brylcreem and comb your hair into a “DA.” “It’s Pony Time”!
OK, this clip from about 1968 is too late for saddle shoes and Brylcreem. Would you believe Nehru jackets and go-go boots?
Last month on Pittsburgh Radio Nostalgia, local broadcast historian John Mehno posted a link to a clip on YouTube from “Teen Time,” a live dance-party show on Steubenville’s Channel 9. Channel 9, then a CBS affiliate called WSTV-TV, is now NBC affiliate WTOV-TV … the calls changed in 1979.