Late Night Local TV and Saturday Night Discomania

November 20, 2014

Old tube television

I really, really miss 1970s television. Not just the great shows that were in prime time, but late night local TV - which simply doesn't exist anymore, except for local news. 

If the local networks have room to fill late at night, they just fill it with infomercials. I used to love watching the stations sign off the air for the night, too.

I love YouTube, and I’m always trying to find interesting videos of local TV from that time period. There isn’t that much out there, because very few people had anything to record them, so when I find them, it’s like a precious gift. The only recording device out there at the time was the Betamax, and very few people had those. Apparently this was recorded on a Betamax, by someone – who?

I remember longing for a Betamax although that wouldn’t have stopped my late night local TV watching! There I was safe in the den, my parents asleep, and I had no real worries. Nothing would have changed my night owl tendencies, especially during the summer with no school! Besides, late night television back then had a slightly surreal feel. It was like entering a dream world.

This was back in the day when there was actual LOCAL programming. Channel 2 (WCBS-TV New York) used to program old films (heck, all of the local channels did that). What’s interesting to me is that sometimes the commercials bring back a certain time period even more than the shows do.

Above is a montage of commercials and other programming from June 17, 1978. Jimmy Carter was President of the United States. Who knows, I may very well have been watching this very channel at this very moment in time.

While you check out the above video, at around the 1:00 mark (after the local CBS station, WCBS Channel 2 in New York, had finished showing The Channel 2 Showcase - apparently a rerun of an old The Name of the Game episode) they ran a hilarious and rather endearing commercial for a disco record – Saturday Night Discomania!

This delightful commercial, a true time capsule, is clearly trying to cash in on the huge success of the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, complete with John Travolta wanna–be, complete with white suit, filmed in a real disco!

The record includes a booklet to teach you all the latest disco dances!

Actually the songs included in the disc are true classics, more early 70s Philly sound than Bee Gees era disco. You can buy the vinyl record or 8-track tape! Or pay C.O.D. (cash on delivery!)

And in small print the disclaimer:

*Not affiliated with Saturday Night Fever*

Right after the commercial the local announcer (Dave Campbell) actually gives us the news radio–style - The Early Morning Report! There was unrest in New York – to be truthful, while I love the 1970s, it wasn’t a great decade for New York, which nearly defaulted, among other problems.

The highlight of those years for New Yorkers (unless you were a Mets fan) was that the New York Yankees won the World Series twice.

Speaking of the Yankees, at around the 8:16 mark in the video it is announced that the Boston Red Sox now have a 13 game lead on the New York Yankees, who were in 4th place. The Yankees went on to have one of the greatest comebacks in sports history, while the Red Sox had an epic collapse, and the Yankees went on to crush the Red Sox win the World Series.

There is an absolutely fabulous commercial for Betamax at around 9:11 which Dracula promoting late night television taping, following immediately by a classic Crazy Eddie commercial, although an uncharacteristically low key one, commercial

But my favorite moment as at the very end, with the classic Channel 2 intro to The Late Show! How many old movies did I discover watching that show?!

*Sigh* I miss local late nights, or even local TV in general. It just doesn’t exist anymore!