Tulsa TV Memories


(from Outline Magazine, December 2002, courtesy of Wilhelm Murg)

Blast From The Past
Tulsa TV Memories
By Mark Roe
Photo by Mike Bruchas

Follow us back to the days of the Restless Ribbon and Griff's Hamburgers. A time before every household had a color television. A time when the Internet would have sounded like a sci-fi fantasy. A time when a certain TV weatherman gave his forecasts with the aid of a lion hand puppet name King Lionel. That's the world of Tulsa TV Memories (TTM), a website devoted to the golden days of Tulsa TV. But be forewarned: this website is so well put together and so chock-full of content you may never want to log off.

Begun in late 1998, TTM webmaster and creator Mike Ransom says the site began in part because of his obsession with the 1960's late night show Fantastic Theater. "I had just created a website for my wife's real estate business and wanted to start one of my own. I thought, 'The world doesn't need another Star Trek website. (Webmaster, 6/9/2008: OK, I just had to have some kind of Trek website) ' I remembered the theme music for Fantastic Theater (a mid-to-late sixties Tulsa late night show) and had been obsessed with it for awhile so I went on-line to a local news group and posted notices asking if anyone knew what the music was."

Ransom says he received a tremendous response to his initial query and decided there would be a strong interest in a website devoted to early Tulsa television. After putting together the website, Ransom says the project began to snowball. "As people in TV found out about the site they started spreading the word," says Ransom. Soon he was receiving submissions from some of the very people the site was designed to honor. TTM now has hundreds of pages of submissions from such Tulsa TV luminaries as Gailard Sartain, Lee Woodward, and the host of Fantastic Theater, Josef Peter Hardt who Sen. Jim Inhofe in 1998 dubbed Mr. Oktoberfest for his pioneering role in launching one of Tulsa's most popular festivals. TTM now has over 116 guest books archived that contain musings and technical information from many of the performers and behind-the-scenes people that made early Tulsa TV happen. "It's not a celebrity vehicle per se, and behind-the-scenes people are big contributors." adds Ransom.

According to Ransom, the response to TTM has been very positive. Yahoo even chose TTM as its "Pick of the Day" on June 3rd of this year. While that may not sound like a very big deal, it did translate into a big response. Ransom says that while TTM has maintained a steady number of hits, or visitors, to the site (hits that reach into hundreds per day) Ransom says that the day they were the top pick, the visitor counter "started clicking like a Geiger Counter."

While the original intent of TTM was to focus on television history, the site also has many fascinating articles covering all aspects of Tulsa arts and entertainment circa 1950's and 1960's. "It (TTM) has turned into more of a pop culture site, although I haven't changed the name because it's become kind of a brand," says Ransom.

While TTM is tremendously entertaining to those of us old enough to remember the likes of Mazeppa Pompazoidi's Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting and the Mr. Zing and Tuffy Show, Ransom also sees a more serious purpose in documenting that particular era. "All this stuff is so ephemeral," he says. Pointing out that many of the shows of that time were done on early videotape which was then re-used and recorded over. Fortunately some items such as videos of Mazeppa are available for purchase from other websites, and TTM has a plethora of hyper-links to get you to those sites. There are also sound clips available on the site that range from an opening segment of the Uncanny Film Festival to the above mentioned theme music from Fantastic Theater.

While Ransom says he has considered putting together a book on Tulsa TV, TTM and other offshoot sites remain his focus for now. "The web is really the best vehicle for this type of stuff, with the availability of hyper-links and Real Audio," he says.

While TTM can be seen as providing a service, Ransom is quick to point out the spirit in which the site began. "I don't know if it's a cultural treasure, but it is fun to look at. Even if somebody else had created the site, I would still have fun just looking at it," he says with a smile. Ransom also says that anyone wishing to add to this special archive of Tulsa history is welcome to add their thoughts or memories by going to the site's Guestbook. "I try not to edit too much," Ransom says, adding that the site is looking for valid history and not gossip.

If you want to take a trip down memory lane that is interesting and fun, or if you have memories or information you'd like to share, check out http://tulsatvmemories.com. Also, be sure and check out the related hyper-links but remember: you need to set aside plenty of time because once on the site you won't want to leave.

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