Saturday, July 02, 2022

Merv Griffin, 1958


In 1958 I was working for WABC Radio in New York City. It was an exciting and exhilarating time for me but it was a very shaky time for the radio industry. The stations were losing audiences by the droves, as TV was just cresting over the horizon. My job was to write promotional material aimed at selling time on these live shows and one of them was a prime-time game show called “Keep Talking”, starring the young and up-coming Merv Griffin.

I never actually met Merv but I was in his presence quite a few times and could see that he certainly exuded charisma, both off and on the air. However, I never guessed that he’d become one of the most successful business men in the world.

Merv was still pretty heavy at that time and it was just a short time later that he decided to “clean up his act”. He realized that TV meant being actually seen as opposed to talking on the radio so he lost a lot of weight and either quit or cut way back on his drinking.

When NBC TV came out with color it was the end of the live radio era … and the beginning of the “newly invented” Merv Griffin. I followed his career for many years and was not surprised to see that he was the creator and executive producer of Jeopardy and many other successful TV shows.

When he passed away in 2007 he was lauded for all he’d done to make TV such a success, but I will always remember the “real” Merv that I’d known in 1958.


Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

I always enjoyed his talk show and I am a fan of Jeopardy today. He knew how to interest large audiences.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I din’t know or hadn’t remembered his connection with Jeopardy.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Joared said...

I first became aware of Merv Griffin when he had a TV morning talk show. Since I was working in TV on our own earlier local live morning talk show, then in our office the rest of the day, I seldom saw more than brief bits of Merv's show. Our station's Program Director and other execs had TV monitors in their offices and often viewed programming other than our own as an NBC affiliate. Our 3 state (Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky) later San Antonio, Texas was added, corporate broadcaster spawned Phil Donahue at our Dayton station. We were in Columbus, Ohio. Our "Mother" station was in Cincinnati, Ohio with a successful live talk show, Ruth Lyons, that had been on the air for years before the major networks started any such shows. They never syndicated Ruth Lyons nationally.

11:27 PM  

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