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July 15, 2008

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Great post! It brought back memories of a late-night, hard-to-find TV show that I used to watch called "E.T. Monitor" hosted by Robert Barry.

This would have been back in the 80's through the early 90's. The show was out of Red Lion, PA, and I was able to pick it up on some tiny station, middle of the night, here in Frederick, MD. The schedule was always changing, so it was hard to catch. You would stay up some nights and it would never show; other nights it would be on a different time. I loved it. I think I may have some VHS dubs of it--though I see a few segments are preserved on YouTube (the Youtube clips seem to be from an earlier date than I remember--in my memory Bob Barry was older--perhaps ill, with a scratchier voice. I believe he died in '92 or so, so maybe I'm recalling how he appeared near the end...)

If I remember correctly, his wife would take the calls and announce them to him on the air, and he would respond. At least that's how they did it near the end of their run...she would screen the calls for him. She looked like the textbook example of spousal devotion.

Anyway--it was the same deal as you describe: a guy sat in front of the camera, talking UFO's, and then the phones would open up, and people would call. I think I did once. I remember a kid called once and said that maybe UFOs came out of interstellar wormholes, and Bob was incredulous--just couldn't figure out what the kid was talking about...he hadn't run into the concept of wormholes, apparently. Plenty of pranking going on, too, but Bob didn't always know when he was being pranked.

Mostly I liked it because it felt like I was in on something that no one else was. I didn't watch it to mock it; I simply enjoyed the feeling that I was one of the maybe 100 people watching at any given moment, and we were sharing this odd time together.

There's a Daniel Pinkwater book called Lizard Music that perfectly describes the odd exhilaration I felt the first time I stumbled across the show. In the book, a kid watching late night TV comes across a show that isn't on the schedule; it shows up after everything else is off the air. It's a show where people-sized lizards are performing some sort of jazz music, live. That's how I felt finding "E.T. Monitor". The show was genuine; it had real magic.

MrFab

We had a show like that on Los Angeles public access cable. The host was a tall skinny guy w/glasses & moustache who would pound on his desk and shout "UFOs are real"! He would also give dead serious reviews of bad old sci-fi movies, the kind that MST3K regulary ridiculed. And he would hold up things for the camera, not knowing they were upside down. Something always seemed to go wrong.

Argh, what was that show?! Couldn't find anything on the web. Spacebrother Greg, any Angelenos out there know what I'm talking about? What a great show that was.

JD

I watched UFO Update! I was young enough at the time to actually be something of a believer. (I'm better now.) I remember calling in once to inform the host of the impending release of a movie I thought might be of interest, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

Part of the show was devoted to an abstractly-animated (I think it may have just been a video camera in a kaleidoscope) short series in which aliens discussed their ongoing operations. I'm probably describing it entirely wrong, but I could never follow it, although it was strangely fascinating. When I made my phone call and gave my first name, the host asked me if I was one of the people responsible for that segment, which he claimed was mysteriously delivered to the station every week, and all he knew were the first names of the writers, one of which I shared.

Later, the show expanded to at least three hours, only one half-hour of which was UFO Update. The host showed an episode of "Time Tunnel," and as I recall he only seemed to have three of them; and there was a segment devoted to pet care, featuring Neil Padron, CEO of Petland Discounts. I'm sure there were other segments, also totally unrelated in subject matter, but I have no recollection what they were now.

Late-night local programming on UHF! Kids today have no idea what they're missing.

JD

Hokey smoke Bullwinkle!

His name was Larry McCann, and apparently some of his letters to President Carter were published in a book called "UFO Politics at the White House" by Larry W. Bryant.

"July 26, 1977; Dear Mr. President:

I've yet to receive any reply to my telegram sent to you regarding your campaign pledge of full disclosure in the area of UFO's and their military connection. I have a vast audience on my television program, "UFO Update," shown in New York over WTVG/TV (Channel 68), and they have the right to know if our military forces have ever engaged in combat with a UFO. Air Force General Benjamin Chiclaw has revealed in the new book published by Doubleday, "Situation Red," that the Air Force has lost many men and aircraft pursuing UFO's. I would appreciate a speedy reply to this telegram since the volume of mail from my viewers regarding this matter has been overwhelming and they would like to have an answer."

(http://www.invispress.com/UFO/UFOsample.html)

What Bryant is doing with the letters McCann sent to President Carter I don't know.

Unfortunately there's no shortage of Larry McCanns on the web and none of them seem to be him.

One last recollection: I think the expanded version of his show was called "The All-Night Show." I could be completely wrong about that.

WmMBerger

Thanks JD! Larry McCann, hell yes! Now that you bring up the Carter letters, I remember that he used to read them on the air. I think that I had stopped watching by the time UFO Update became incorporated into the All-Night Show, but that too rings a distant bell. Thanks so much for your memories and research.

JD

One last item: The Uncle Floyd Show's Mugsy, may he rest in peace, had this to say about "The All Night Show" in a post on his Yahoo Group, Nov. 10, 2001:

"Now I know what you're referring to. There was a
block of live shows on Saturday night on chan 68. The
first being the People's Psychologist, the second UFO
Update, and the third Maxon Theater which always played
the same episode of the Time Tunnel. The other main
sponsor, who's still around, was a local NY/NJ Pet Supply
chain store.

"I actually worked on the show several nights running camera. It was more bizarre off
camera then on. There was no call screening device, just
the audio man switching the phone mike on and off.
Some nights the audio man was also the director which
made things difficult since he had top operate in two
different rooms.

"The People's Psychologist had a young girlfriend he's make with off camera during
commercials. He did other things too. UFO Update was really
ahead of it's time. They frequently had taped
interviews with a man called Brice that would've made Art
Bell cringe these days.

"I believe there was even a short lived Sunday version with guys dressed up
as nuns. Most of these wacky shows, as well as
WBTV's schedule were changed after the sale to WHT."

(http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/unclefloydtvshow/message/2802)

Counting The Beat

Fans of songs about UFOs should check out a blogpost / podcast of UFO songs by New Zealand bands at
http://countingthebeat.blogspot.com/2008/04/like-illuminated-ping-pong-ball-thats.html

Some of these songs relate to the sightings of UFOs over the Kaikoura Ranges in New Zealand in early 1979.

Pr0nwatcheR

There are episodes of Time Tunnel for $2 each at Cinemanow.com. They have some other wierd-ass shows I've never heard of, Jupiter Moon? Crusade? Firefly? where was I when they came out?!

Pr'olly watching pr0n...

Art Roberts

I also remember E.T.Monitor and Robert Barry. They were on Saturday nights at Midnight on Ch 49 out of Red Lion, PA. I was in Mechanicsburg and this was a regular channel to us. I was delighted to find such an interesting show. I saw it during the 1985-88 time frame.

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