Saturday, August 25, 2007

Most Obscure Cleveland TV Talk Show-Part Two

TV Guide Ad for WKYC-TV's Our Man Mark, hosted by musician/humorist Mark Russell, which aired for a few months in 1968. (If he is "the piano player," why is he shown here with a set of drums?)

Last time we examined the WKYC 1-1:30 talk show, "3 on the Town" (September 1965- February1968) which possibly because it had too many changes, only lasted about 2 and a half years..We mentioned in passing one of the last co-hosts of 3 on the Town, Mark Russell. If that name sounds familiar, it should. He is the same Mark Russell that has been doing PBS comedy Specials and DVDS lampooning the Washington Establishment for well over 25 years. . WKYC Executive producer John Schimpf saw real potential in the 35 year old Buffalo, New York native..It was decided to retool 3 on the Town once again with Russell as host and retitle the series OUR MAN MARK...Debuting Monday, February 19, 1968, the show was a mix of music, guests and topical discussion, not unlike the later months of 3 on the Town...The difference, was that Mark did a bit of singing and piano playing which would be his signature years later..Below is a Variety review in the 3-27-68 issue.

With:Mark Russell, Bob McKee Trio, guests
Exec. Producer:John Schmipf
Director:Bill Bowers
30 mins:Mon-thru-Fri 1PM
WKYC-TV Cleveland (color)

Seven years ago, ch. 3 introduced the Mike Douglas Show that has since clicked in Videoland. With the transfer of KYW to Philadelphia, the returning NBCers sought to captitalize on the variety-host show in the vacated segment. Several efforts materialized but none seemed to click.

Now the latest:"Our Man Mark." with Mark Russell as emcee when the Clay Cole-Russell team from the network's experimental stable split. With Russell, who might do it, is the Bob McKee Trio, daylighting from their chores at the Theatrical. A special gimmick is "Wifeline" a question of the day in which viewers, particularly housewives, can call in the answer.

Russell comes across smoothly. There's charm and tact and the capability to do an intelligent interview as was evidenced with his chat with Colleen Moore (silent movie actress-guest 2-28-68)"Mr. Echo" Frank Rains, and a local interview segment dealing with adoption. As a standup pianist, Russell also handles the music segments well and that includes his singing. For support, there is the versatile Bob McKee Trio, a veteran professional group well established in the area.

The ingredients are all on hand to entrance the housewife seeking that post-luncheon coffee sip after the kids have left for school. The show might even make a syndicated offering from the NBC O&O, but the field may be a bit crowded seven years after the hit was made-Mark (reviewer)

Despite the glowing review here, "Our Man Mark" lasted just under six months, in the last weeks apparently showing some repeat segments. The show was canceled August 9, 1968.."Snap Judgment" NBC's 10AM game show began the following Monday at 1PM..

It seems unusual that in anything you see or read about Mark Russell, this show is never mentioned as a credit..It was that obscure..He did seem to polish his talents for what he did later..

Part of the problem with these shows was the constant turnover of personnel as we said earlier. NBC was starting to move people with potential out of Cleveland to higher profile positions in NBC (Bud Dancy, Glenn Rinker, etc.) It would be their trademark up until relinquishing control of the station in 1990..

This will likely be the last WKYC centered post for a while..The response has been very good and I appreciate it much..


  1. Another fantastic post. Thanks for these...

  2. tim--well done series. thanks for the link to happy hare. have you ever done research on how channel 43 started in cleveland? long time veterans linn sheldon and alice weston had a lot of air time over there. 43 is also where ma and pa bernier, ramona and sky marschall got started--and don't forget sooperhost marty.--david5258

  3. Would like to see reports on the beginnings of Channel 25, 43, and both incarnations of Channel 61 (WKBF/WCLQ) when it was a regular TV station and not the Home Shopping or Univision affiliate.