Arch Campbell on Channel 4 ratings back in the day ~
“We couldn’t get arrested. In fact, we used to … You know, Patty Hearst was kidnapped and started robbing banks back then. We used to say that, ‘When Patty Hearst was on the lam from the FBI, she anchored the 5:00 news on Channel 4, because that way she knew that nobody would see her.'”
A Ockershausen This is Andy Ockershausen. This is Our Town.
Arch Campbell: Oh, ho, ho.
A Ockershausen We have a special guest …
Arch Campbell: Whose town is this?
A Ockershausen Who has one of the best jobs in show business. He gets to go to the movies, he goes to the theater, he goes to concerts. He sees great entertainment. He never pays. He’s been doing it close for 40 years. If every channel and every radio station had an opportunity to have Arch McDonald, as a friend of mine. Welcome to Arch Campbell on Our Town with Andy Ockershausen.
Arch Campbell: Does anybody come on this show who’s actually employed anymore? What is this? This is the parade … You ought to call this the “When I” show. When I worked here, when I worked there, when I was working, when I. I’m pretty much retired, but I’ve been in broadcasting more than 50 years. I spent 40 years on television in Washington D.C.
A Ockershausen That’s incredible, Arch. Nobody else can match that.
Arch Campbell: How do you think I feel?
A Ockershausen You were wired from time to time.
Will the real Arch McDonald please stand up?
Arch Campbell: I thought I’d last about three years. You said Arch McDonald.
A Ockershausen I know, but you know what? I used to do that when you were a talent.
Arch Campbell: I loved it, when I had talent. If there’s anyone listening to this podcast, under the age of 90, maybe we should explain that Arch McDonald was a beloved baseball announcer. He called all the baseball games for the Washington Senators. He was a great a sportscaster. I came to town, and he died in the late sixties, like 1968. You know later, I made friends with a lot of people, and one of my friends is Jim Silman.
A Ockershausen Oh my, Jimmie.
Arch Campbell: Arch McDonald died on the train coming back from a baseball game in Philadelphia. My friend Jim was with him. They were playing bridge on the club car of the metro.
A Ockershausen Oh my God. I didn’t know that story.
Arch Campbell: When I got to town in ’74, Arch McDonald had died, but he was still well remembered. The guy who hired me, who was the boss at Channel 4, was named Bruce McDonald. My name is Arch Campbell, and of course the Campbells and the McDonalds had this great feud in Scotland, way back when.
A Ockershausen It all came into play.
Arch Campbell: Arch McDonald had a son, Arch McDonald Junior.
A Ockershausen Archie, the salesman.
Arch Campbell: He ran a station up in Frederick or some place.
A Ockershausen Hagerstown.
Arch Campbell: I would get mail for Arch McDonald. Then I met you. I used to come over here when Chris Core was on WMAL, and hang around Chris. We were never sober, neither one of us, but we had a lot of fun. I’d run into you, and you would say Arch McDonald to me. At first, I thought, “He’s having a memory skip.”
A Ockershausen “He’s dumb.”
Arch Campbell: “He doesn’t really …” It took be about 15 years to figure out, “Oh no. He’s screwing with me. He’s screwing with me. He thinks nobody knows who I am. He wants me to think that.” I loved you from the word go, but when I figured that out, I knew …
A Ockershausen Well, Sheila did too, so that made it okay. His wife was Sheila.
Arch Campbell: My first wife.
A Ockershausen A very successful ad executive, very successful.
Arch Campbell: You know, she’s still in town, and now she leads groups on trips to Paris.
A Ockershausen That’s what I understand. She’s a traveller.
Arch Campbell: She speaks French.
A Ockershausen Marvelous, marvelous.
Arch Campbell: You get to see Paris as a native. She had an ad agency, and you were running Channel 50, and you said you would trade out some time for a stove.
A Ockershausen That’s right. We did that.
Arch Campbell: No, you offered her a stove. She said, “I don’t cook. What am I going to do with a stove?”
The road to the University of Texas
A Ockershausen Those were the good old days. Arch, you were a Texas graduate, the University of Texas.
Arch Campbell: A University of Texas graduate.
A Ockershausen Are you a native of Texas?
Arch Campbell: I think I’m a fourth generation Texan.
A Ockershausen There you were born, of course, in …
Arch Campbell: Born in San Antonio, Texas. Thanks to two teachers in my high school, one of them taught speech and the other one taught drama, and at the end of my high school years they said, “You ought to go into broadcasting.” The drama teacher helped me get rid of my Texas accent. I went to a community college first, in San Antonio, where she started an on the air radio station, KSYM, in San Antonio. Now, NPR and the educational stations, are what WMAL was 30 years ago. They are the powerhouse stations. She helped me get a job. I got a job in San Antonio. Then I went on to the University of Texas, and I worked for KTBC, when it was owned by LBJ and Lady Bird.
Former President Lyndon Johnson and First Lady Ladybird Johnson – KTBC – Austin, Texas
A Ockershausen Lyndon Johnson, of course.
Arch Campbell: We’re in a big building in downtown Austin. They had an apartment on top of the building. I would see him when he was President. He would come in, Secret Service would surround the joint, we’d be a bunch of kids there, and there he was. One day I came to work, well first I was on the air on that Sunday night in March of 1968, and they’re carrying the LBJ Presidential Address. He says, “I shall not seek, nor will I accept the nomination of my party for President.” The newsroom …
A Ockershausen ’68.
Arch Campbell, the former First Lady Ladybird Johnson and her ’69 Chrysler station wagon
Arch Campbell: The newsroom, of the station he owns, the newsroom goes, “What? What? Oh my God. Oh no,” because it meant he would be coming back and he’d be taking it all out on us, at the television and radio station. One day I came to work in Austin, and Lady Bird was there. She had a brand new ’69 Chrysler station wagon. They had just left office, so she parked her car. I’m walking through, she starts snapping fingers, she says, “You. You. Come here.” I come over there and Lady Bird, she says, “How do you turn the lights off on this Chrysler?” I said, “Well, I don’t know Mrs. Johnson.” I look in there and it has a timer on it. I clicked the timer off, I said, “It’s this timer Mrs. Johnson.” Then she walks into the station, and I walk behind her, open the door. By this time, I was the Program Director of KTBC radio by now. I was 23 years old.
A Ockershausen The Johnsons still owned it.
Arch Campbell: Yeah. They owned … You know, the radio station, KTBC, was one of the last family-owned radio stations. They held out. Lucy Bird kept that station. She, I understand, was a very good owner. Anyway, Mrs. Johnson gets in the elevator, goes upstairs, and I’m going back to the radio station. She turns to the receptionist and mouths, “Who’s that?” That was my impact on the Johnsons. I worked with, a woman called me up, she had left and went to work for WFAA, in Dallas.
WFAA Dallas, Texas
A Ockershausen Powerhouse station.
Arch Campbell: They hired me.
A Ockershausen A great TV station too.
Arch Campbell: WFAA radio first, Clear Channel 50,000 watts. At the time, this was like 1971, television was expanding. Every year, they would double the size of the newsroom. In ’71, I got into the WFAA TV newsroom, and three years later I came here.
A Ockershausen WFAA was a great station. I knew a lot of people down there in Texas, through the NAB and industry things. That was a plum, to work for a great station like that.
Arch Campbell: They became one of the leading local television stations in America. They became quite a powerful corporation, the A.H. Belo Corporation, Belo.
A Ockershausen That was Channel Eight, correct?
Arch Campbell: Channel Eight, and then they owned stations all over the country. We used to say, “A.H. Belo, they pay below everyone else.”
A Ockershausen That was Texas Arch. You know if you hired somebody from Texas, you could low ball them. I hired people from, like Dan Lovett, we got him up here from Texas, and he told me how much …
Arch Campbell: Houston, big guy in Houston.
A Ockershausen He made $11,000, we offered him $12,000, he got on the next plane.
Arch Campbell: He didn’t realize how expensive it was to live here. He’s living down in Houston, where it was cheap. Dan Lovett.
TV Ratings History Channel 4 | Channel 9
A Ockershausen Oh my God. Arch, when you first came up, you started at Channel 4.
Arch Campbell: Came to Channel 4.
A Ockershausen In the news department?
Arch Campbell: I worked for Channel 4 News for 32 years. As I say, my first boss was Bruce McDonald. Do you remember Bruce McDonald?
A Ockershausen I know the name.
Arch Campbell: Bruce McDonald, he was one of these iconoclast guys. He really wanted to push the envelope. At the time, we couldn’t get arrested at Channel 4. Channel 9 dominated this city. They had everybody. They had Davy Marlon Jones, they had Gordon Peterson.
A Ockershausen We’re going to get into those things. Dave, oh my God.
Arch Campbell | Ratings Jokes
Arch Campbell: We couldn’t get arrested. In fact, we used to … You know, Patty Hearst was kidnapped and started robbing banks back then. We used to say that, “When Patty Hearst was on the lam from the FBI, she anchored the 5:00 news on Channel 4, because that way she knew that nobody would see her.”
A Ockershausen That was a great story.
Arch Campbell: That joke has been updated now. Now it’s, “When Osama Bin Laden was in hiding, he anchored the 4:00 news on Channel 7, because he knew nobody would find him.”
A Ockershausen Well what used to be about ABC, we used to say, “The Vietnam War, put it on ABC, it’ll be over in 13 weeks.”
Arch Campbell: Canceled in 13 weeks.
A Ockershausen Everything in the broadcast business, in television, the cycle’s of 13 weeks. They’d commission a show, if it made 13 weeks they’d keep it, but otherwise gone.
KTBC – Only VHF channel in Austin
Arch Campbell: When I worked at KTBC, LBJ owned that station, and he fixed it so he had the only VHF channel in Austin.
A Ockershausen In the market. Correct.
Arch Campbell: KTBC television, Channel 7, was the primary affiliate of NBC, CBS, and ABC.
A Ockershausen Cherry picker.
Arch Campbell: Every 13 weeks they would change their schedule. ABC had Marcus Welby, they took that away from the poor UHF station that had it, and put it on their channel. It’s just amazing.
A Ockershausen Nobody could do anything because of LBJ.
Arch Campbell: That was the deal. They also, they owned the cable company. They had cable too.
A Ockershausen I know for a fact, from people in the business, he would make calls to advertisers about spending money on his TV station in Austin. He’s the President of the United States, would twist an arm, “We need that schedule.”
Arch Campbell: I don’t want to get into politics, and everybody is criticizing Donald Trump for running his businesses, but LBJ did the same thing. He really did.
A Ockershausen With the protection of the government.
Arch Campbell: He would come back and he’d be in meetings at that station. The station owned all sorts of stuff. They had hidden ownership in other stations around the state. They owned car dealers, and they had …
A Ockershausen And the cable system.
Arch Campbell: They had the cable system, God love them. That was so much fun. It was so much fun.
A Ockershausen Well absolutely.
Arch Campbell: Stations were hiring. I just walked in there, I started school in Austin, and the weekend I got there a guy said, “You know, they want a weekend person at KTBC. Why don’t you go over there?” I went over there and the guy hired me. I am still going to the movies. I am no longer employed. I go to screenings still.
A Ockershausen As a guest?
Arch Campbell – Present Day
Arch Campbell: I’ve got a website, Archcampbell.org. I’m an org. Archcampbell.net, I’m a net. I’m on DC Outlook. I’m not making a dime from that.
A Ockershausen Yeah, but your people haven’t forgotten you Arch. We remember you.
Arch Campbell: What’s the name of this show? Whatever happened to? Arch Campbell, dead or alive?
A Ockershausen We had Maurice Cullinane, remember the Chief of Police.
Arch Campbell: Oh, love him.
A Ockershausen We dug him up and brought him in here.
Arch Campbell: Love him.
A Ockershausen Cully. People thought he was dead, he’s not dead.
Arch Campbell: A guy made a documentary this year called Tower. It’s about the tower sniper in 1966 at the University of Texas.
A Ockershausen Yeah, in Austin.
Arch Campbell: It features a lot of those people I worked with in the late sixties, at KTBC.
A Ockershausen Wow.
Arch Campbell: You can get Tower, you can download it.
A Ockershausen It’s a powerful story of that shooter.
Arch Campbell: It says break, you have commercials on this thing, or what are you tired? I’ve been doing all the talking.
A Ockershausen No. You’ve heard of PSA?
Arch Campbell: PSA?
A Ockershausen This is a PSA. This is Arch Campbell and this is Our Town, Andy Ockershausen. We do it for love, not money.
Guy: Okay, keep your eyes closed.
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Gal: All right.
Guy: Okay. Open your eyes.
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Guy: Be honest, what do you think?
Gal: Well, I like how if you switch to GEICO, you could save hundreds of dollars on car insurance.
Guy: Oh yeah, that’s true.
Gal: Yeah. Here, why don’t I hold your paintbrush while you call them.
GEICO Announcer: GEICO, because saving 15% or more on car insurance is always a great answer.[End GEICO Commercial]
Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town.
A Ockershausen This is Andy Ockershausen. This is Our Town. We’re talking to the critic, Arch McDonald. One of the wonderful times of my life, to have Arch Campbell.
On Maturity | Hindsight is 20/20
Arch Campbell: When you are young, you don’t realize when people are kidding you, like when you called me Arch McDonald, that, that’s a form of love.A Ockershausen It is.
Arch Campbell: One time, Mo Siegel wrote a column about me, basically saying, “Who the hell is Arch Campbell?” I was offended. Once you grow up and start to get it, then you get it, then you realize, “Of course.” I call myself Arch McDonald around you now, Andy.
A Ockershausen There’s only one Mo Siegel. We could do a whole show on some of his things.
Arch Campbell: Mo Siegel, man.
A Ockershausen You end up at Channel 7, my old hometown, my old station.
Arch Campbell: Let’s talk about Channel 4 first.
A Ockershausen Four first, right.
Arch Campbell: In the days when I came to … I’ve got some Channel 7 stories. Are we going to be cut off after an hour?
A Ockershausen No. We’re open and this is David Susskind. Open end.
Arch Campbell: There’s a “When I” name.
A Ockershausen I thought you’d remember.
Arch Campbell: Channel 4 had all of these great old timers when I came there. I always loved the first generation of people who worked in TV. Willard Scott. Willard lived out in Paris, Virginia, and he’d work in that newsroom. He did radio and he did the weather. Then they started having him do the 11 o’clock weather. Every night, he would look for somebody to go to dinner with him, because he couldn’t drive to Virginia and back by 11 o’clock.
A Ockershausen And get back in time.
Arch Campbell: One night, we went to the Old Europe, on Wisconsin Avenue.
A Ockershausen On Wisconsin Avenue.
Arch Campbell: It was the Asparagus Festival at the Old Europe. He had three rounds of asparagus and about two pitchers of beer. He gets up on the table and starts dancing. I thought the table was going …
A Ockershausen 250 pounds.
Arch Campbell: He wrecked the place, just ruined it, just tore it apart. He was a one of a … Every year, during the ratings, Willard would take his toupee off and throw it over the …
A Ockershausen It was always great.
Arch Campbell: People just loved that. Willard, Mack McGarry, Inga, do you remember Inga Hook?
Advice from Inga Rundvold
A Ockershausen Inga Rundvold.
Arch Campbell: Inga. Inga was there. She had this woman’s show. Inga told me, “When you leave Channel 4, you must always sign your name to the back of a flat.” When I left in 2006, I signed my name on a fake palm tree. I went back to Channel 4 for the first time in 10 years, and they’ve thrown all that stuff out. I’m just wondering …
A Ockershausen You never worked with them in the old building did you? When they were in the hotel? Used to be in the Sheraton you know, downstairs in the Sheraton.
Arch Campbell: I worked with a cameraman and we were at the Sheraton, and he says, “Let me show you where the studios were.” We went down to the basement.
A Ockershausen It was a mess.
Channel 7 Curse | Mystical number 7
Arch Campbell: It was something. Channel 4 though, we struggled, Channel 9 was dominating everything. Channel 7, was kind of the young person’s station.
A Ockershausen Correct.
Arch Campbell: Seven, was kind of the hip place.
A Ockershausen That was because the ABC Network was young people.
Arch Campbell: They did some hip stuff on Channel 7. They were in that skating rink over on Connecticut Avenue.
A Ockershausen That’s right, at the bowling alley there too.
Arch Campbell: The people who worked at Channel 7 said there was a curse on the station, because they had drawn up the plans for the atomic bomb in the basement of that building.
A Ockershausen It was a place that made fuses. That’s a true story.
Arch Campbell: And that, that was the reason there was a curse on Seven, and they could never be the number one station in town.
A Ockershausen That is a great true story. Everybody over there knew it. It was called the Diamond something Fuse Lab. It was something that you … Number seven was supposed to be a mystical number, but they could never get a number.
Shake up at Channel 4 – John Rohrbach and Gordon Peterson
Arch Campbell: They put the “mys” back in mystical at Seven. They made a lot of money at Channel 7. You didn’t have to be number one. A guy named John Rohrbach, came to Channel 4 in 1979. In 1979, everything went to hell at Channel 4. Willard Scott went to The Today Show. Sue Simmons was working at Channel 4.
A Ockershausen I remember her doing news.
Arch Campbell: She went to New York. They had a guy, a really great anchor named Jim Hartz. Rohrbach got Gordon Peterson to sign a contract and say that …
A Ockershausen To switch.
Arch Campbell: Because the ownership of Channel 9 had changed. His suit said that because the ownership, it’s changed, his contract was no longer valid. Gordon signed a deal to come to Channel 4. It would have been Peterson and Jim Vance. They went to court. Peterson lost the case. Peterson later told me, he ran into the judge, the judge said, “I didn’t want to change channels.”
A Ockershausen That might be true.
John Rohrbach creates the Channel 4 Team – 1980 – includes Arch Campbell
Arch Campbell: Everybody left and Rohrbach said, “We’re not going to beat Channel 9 one on one, but we will beat them as a team.” He said, “Vance, you’re my anchor. We’ll get you a partner.” He went out and he found George Michael, and because Willard left, they traded Bob Ryan for Willard Scott. He says, “You are the guys.” He called me in, he said, “I want you to go on the air every night at the end of the news. Do whatever you want.” I started doing movie reviews. I had a dear friend at Ford’s Theatre, Nancy Lesser. She said, “Why don’t you come …” Remember Nancy Lesser?
Ford’s Theatre – Nancy Lesser, Tom Gauger, Frankie Hewitt
A Ockershausen Good friend of Tom Gauger, I’ll tell you that. I remember her very well.
Arch Campbell: She’s a bigshot at HBO now.
A Ockershausen Is that right?
Arch Campbell: Yeah.
A Ockershausen Whatever happened to Frankie Hewitt, incidentally?
Arch Campbell: Frankie passed away.
A Ockershausen Oh.
Arch Campbell: Frankie was the backbone of Ford’s Theater.
A Ockershausen I remember her through Tom Gauger, who was doing something at the theater. I don’t know what he was doing.
Arch Campbell – Channel 4 Movie and Theatre Reviewer
Arch Campbell: She said, “Come down and review our …” I’d go out every night, I’d review a play, I’d go see a movie. At that time in the early eighties, downtown had emptied out. There were vast stretches of downtown Washington that were empty. That led to the formation of a lot of small theater companies, because they would give them the space for nothing.
A Ockershausen Right, to perform.
Arch Campbell: They needed to do something. Half of downtown was bombed out, as a result of the 1968 riots. The Studio Theater, the Woolly Mammoth Theater …
A Ockershausen The Woolly Mammoth, I remember.
Arch Campbell: All those places. I would go down and I’d review … I saw a production of the Source Theater, starred Marcia Gay Harden, who was just getting her start there. One night I came back, and they couldn’t quite find a partner for Jim Vance. They got an older guy, and he and Vance never really clicked. The Source Theater put on a one woman show starring Jessica, what was it? Livica, Lindfors, Lindfors, what was her name? She was an old …
A Ockershausen I know who you’re talking about.
Arch Campbell: Here it is, here it is, Viveca Lindfors, had done some movies in the forties. She was an old woman by then. She was doing something about Swedish immigrants coming to town. I start talking about the show. The reason my theater reviews had pretty good energy, if I get back to the station at 10:00, 10:30 at night …
A Ockershausen And could be on the late show.
Arch Campbell: Throw a few lines together. Throw a couple of slides up there, and go out at 11:30. I had less than an hour to put something together. In TV, as opposed to radio, and I worked both, TV, you’ve got to, the technicians, they’ve got to be with you, you’ve got to be pulling together. I start talking about Viveca Lindfors and her one woman show.
A Ockershausen Viveca, I remember that name.
Bob Ryan and Arch Campbell – Some fun on set
Arch Campbell: The anchor guy says, “Ah Viveca Lindfors, I remember her from the movies.” Bob Ryan is standing there and next to me, sotto voice he says, “Silent or talkies?” We started laughing. Then I get to the line, “And it’s so sad that only seven people showed up to watch Viveca Lindfors tonight.” About that time I did a spit take. We all just … The thing we had at Channel 4, here’s the thing.
A Ockershausen Chemistry.
Arch Campbell: Rohrbach put us together in 1980. The four of us and later the five, counting Doreen, were together on a newscast for 25 years.
A Ockershausen Together.
Arch Campbell: That will never happen again.
A Ockershausen No.
Arch Campbell: It will never happen again that people will go to an organization and stay. Now the impact of local news and the dollars are such, that they can’t pay you enough to stay. They don’t want you to stay. If you can, you’ll go to a network or somewhere where …
A Ockershausen Cable now. They’re all getting into it.
Arch Campbell: Cable, everywhere.
A Ockershausen Streaming, everything. One of the secrets of any success we had, Harden and Weaver were together for 35 years. Trumbull and Core come over together for 25 years. Gauger was by himself for 50 years.
Arch Campbell: Everybody came to town, they said, “How is it that WMAL is number one? It’s such a …
A Ockershausen Hodgepodge.
Arch Campbell: “It’s a hodgepodge. It’s not a rock and roll station. How did they do it?” It’s because you had those personalities.
A Ockershausen And they stayed.
Arch Campbell: Yeah. Felix Grant.
A Ockershausen Oh my God.
Arch Campbell: I remember the story, ABC radio bought WMAL and who was it? Rick Sklar was the big …
A Ockershausen Program Director at WABC.
Arch Campbell: Rock and roll guy, programmed all the ABC stations. He had something where he could listen to all the ABC stations. At night, he would dial up Felix Grant, because it was so unusual. It was jazz and album jazz. You were AM and FM, you were everything before, the station was everything to the market. I miss those days. I miss those …
WMAL Success Tied to Talent and Community
A Ockershausen You were at the tail end of it of course. Arch, it was not calculated, it happened because the people were talented. Like Gauger, I would tell people, “Gauger would sell some key lime pie from a bakery in Vienna, Virginia.” He did a hell of a job. Who would have ever thought of key lime pie? Gauger was a good salesman.
Arch Campbell: WMAL had deep roots in the community.
A Ockershausen Absolutely.
Arch Campbell: It did all that community stuff. Who was the all night guy?
A Ockershausen Bill Mayhew?
Arch Campbell: Mayhew. Mayhew was the man who never slept.
A Ockershausen That’s correct. He played golf all day too. Oh Arch.
Arch Campbell: He was out doing that stuff. I think that is what is missing from local radio and local television now, is the roots in the community that get established after 25 years. People come, they go. It’s not the same.
A Ockershausen Four has done a great job of holding on.
Janice Ockershausen: It was the love affair of the audience with the talent, and the community give back.
Arch Campbell: Yes. You connect with the talent and you connect with the audience.
A Ockershausen You did that at Channel 4, when he put that team together, and George was a big part of it.
Arch Campbell: And Bob Ryan.
A Ockershausen Of course, how could you ever replace Willard? They didn’t try to, which was smart. Ryan was completely different. He had his own hair.
Arch Campbell: Ryan, one of my closest friends is Bob Ryan.
A Ockershausen What a great guy.
Arch Campbell: Just a great, great guy.
A Ockershausen He did our news on WMAL.
Arch Campbell: Oh, I know, I know, and you paid him too. Now they do it for free.
A Ockershausen I know that. Bob was a very dear friend, in the early eighties.
Arch Campbell: I think that’s what, but if, no one asked me, but if you wonder what is missing, it is the ties to the community. That’s what TV stations had back then, and longevity.
A Ockershausen That’s Vance is, there’ll never be another Vance, because nobody will have that much patience.
Arch Campbell: I would say, I want to say, that the success of Channel 4 right now, still goes back to John Rohrbach and what he did, because he created something unique. Now, the unique is not valued as much as, “How can we get something that looks okay and not pay a lot of money for it?” How much am I getting paid for this?
A Ockershausen We’ll settle that, when we decide.
Arch Campbell: I get some Our Town earbuds.
A Ockershausen This is Our Town, remember it’s Our Town is important. All of these things are important. You’re a big important part of Our Town. This is Andy Ockershausen, we’ll be right back with Arch Campbell.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen, brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
A Ockershausen This is Andy Ockershausen and this is Our Town. We’re talking to the eminent, I don’t know whether to call him a critic or he’s critical …
Arch Campbell: Eminent?
A Ockershausen He’s eminent because I read that somewhere.
Arch Campbell: Eminently speaking.
Washingtonian Magazine Washingtonian of the Year
A OckershausenYou were Washingtonian Magazine’s Washingtonian of the Year. I happen to have had that honor too Arch, and it was well deserved.
Arch Campbell: They give that honor to people who leave television. Washingtonian of the Year is, “Thanks for leaving.”
A Ockershausen I got carried in there because WMAL had six people in there. Do you believe that? The Washingtonian is Harden and Weaver, Trumbull and Core, Felix, Mayhew, and they finally dragged me in. I didn’t do it, they pulled me in, I admit to that. I found out the secret, as you said, hitch your wagon to somebody who’s going to be successful. I hitched it to Jim Gibbons first, and then Harden and Weaver.
Arch Campbell: Bob Ryan, did that for me. The year I left Channel 7, he started a letter writing campaign.
A Ockershausen Yeah, that’s what it takes.
Arch Campbell: I had no idea of it.
A Ockershausen You certainly deserved it. You did so much for the community, it’s all about that.
Arch Campbell on Channel 7
Arch Campbell: I was very lucky to work in the years when I worked, and to be able to do the things I did. After the 32 years at Channel 4, I was very grateful and lucky to work another eight at Channel 7.
A Ockershausen They kept the crew pretty good. Tim Brant was with you the whole time, wasn’t he?
Arch Campbell: Yeah, Tim was there. Peterson was there. All your …
A Ockershausen She just retired. What’s her name?
Arch Campbell: Maureen Bunyon.
A Ockershausen Maureen just retired.
Arch Campbell: Maureen. She would be a great person for your show.
A Ockershausen I think you’re absolutely right. I love Maureen.
Arch Campbell: If you can get her.
A Ockershausen That’s another money deal. That’s been happening in our business right now.
Arch Campbell: Yeah, that’s it.
A Ockershausen Why would you let Maureen go if it wasn’t money? “We’re not renewing your contract,” that means we ain’t going to pay you. That’s what I heard. She was such a great talent.
Arch Campbell: The other thing that happened, is stations consolidated. Instead of a family or The Washington Star, for instance, owning this radio station WMAL and a few others, now it’s corporations that own 300 or 400 stations.
A Ockershausen I know, and you’re just a number.
Arch Campbell: They don’t have to be number one. They don’t have to be number one.
A Ockershausen We’re a number Arch.
Arch Campbell on Patton Oswalt
Arch Campbell: I want to tell you a story. One of the things that happened to me, is my father-in-law got Sirius Radio in his car. He loved to listen to the comedy channel. A guy came into me one day he said, “This guy, Patton Oswalt.” You ever heard of Patton Oswalt? He’s a standup comic and a character actor. He says, “He’s ripping you in his act.” I heard the thing.
A Ockershausen Ripping Arch Campbell?
Arch Campbell: Yeah. He talks about growing up in Sterling, Virginia, and wanting to go to all the cool movies, and he says, “But the guy who was the gatekeeper, who won’t let you do anything cool and breakout, ugh the guy we had, this guy, Arch Campbell on the local news. He would say, ‘Mad Max, I went to see that. They’re driving around in cars. There’s no gas. I don’t get it. What are they doing?'” I did say that. I was going for a laugh.
A Ockershausen That was strange, wasn’t it?
Arch Campbell: He says, “That guy. Oh, I couldn’t wait to get out of town.” Patton came to town and I copied down everything he had said about me. I sat him down and I read it to him. He says, “Well, you know, I was trying to grow up. I was trying to do the cool things.” We kind of made up. It’s posted on YouTube. You can look at it, Arch Campbell meets Patton Oswalt. He goes to do something else and he’s coming back, and he goes by my office. This is at Channel 7. I stick my head out again and say, “Patton, it’s really great to meet you. Thanks so much.” He says, “You bet,” and he smiles. As he walked away I said, “By the way Patton, bleep you.”
A Ockershausen That’s all American baby.
Arch Campbell: He turned around and roared. He’s been a friend ever since. People tell me they grew up watching me.
A Ockershausen It’s true Arch.
Other Movie Critics | Davey Marlin-Jones, John Corcoran, Roy Meacham
Arch Campbell: I loved the movies back then. I loved the competition with Davey Marlin-Jones.
A Ockershausen Oh my God. Did Seven ever have a critic besides you?Arch Campbell: They had John Corcoran.
A Ockershausen I remember Corcoran, right.
Arch Campbell: Every station at 5 had Roy Meacham and a few other … There was a movie critic …
A Ockershausen Meacham was a radio guy on WGMS FM, remember that?
Arch Campbell: Right. Every TV station had a movie critic. Every TV station went out and did theater reviews. I would like to see them do that again.
A Ockershausen Why don’t they do that? They don’t want to plug the movie.
Arch Campbell: The whole form now is breaking news, breaking news. Years ago someone said to me, “News, very soon, will no longer be segment oriented, where you tune in for the segment. It’s going to be story oriented.”
A Ockershausen For the whole half hour whatever it is.
Pivotal Event in TV Broadcast – O.J. Simpson Freeway Chase
Arch Campbell: I think the thing that changed everything, was when O.J. was driving down the freeway and the helicopters took a picture of a car on a freeway, being chased, and it lasted two and a half hours. It was content, and it was interesting.
A Ockershausen Mystery.
Arch Campbell Today
Arch Campbell: It was mystery. Two things happened to me this week. I ran into a guy, he says, “You interviewed me in 1975.” I said, “Really?” He says, “I started a company called Re-Runs.” His company, you would go over to Bethesda and they would rent you a movie projector and a screen and a print, and you would take them home and project them to your friends. Two years later they invented the VCR. By then, he was out of business. He says, “It really pissed me off. I was too soon for that.” The other thing is, I still go to movies, and I still love it when something …
A Ockershausen I love the theater too. I like to go and sit down, and watch a good movie.
Arch Campbell: I like going to the theater. I love that La La Land came out and did something different. I saw a movie and I know that you’re going to play this in the future, but I saw a movie called Get Out. It was directed by a guy named Jordan Peele, who’s a black guy, and it’s the story of a black kid who’s dating a beautiful white girl, Allison Williams. She takes him home to meet the parents and they’re very nice to him, but everything is kind of off and it turns into a horror movie. They have something in mind, and this is one of the greatest breakthrough movies, it’s horror, satire, comedy, since The Stepford Wives or Fatal Attraction or Rosemary’s Baby. I still love walking in and seeing something that’s totally new and that …
A Ockershausen And totally different. Is it still in the theaters live now?
Arch Campbell: It depends on when you run this thing. Depending on when you run it, you might be able to download it. They’ll look at the thing. I can go to my TV set. I can hit On Demand, I can hit Turner Classics, I can hit streaming. I’ve got this Amazon Fire thing. I thought it was a fire alarm, it’s a video system.
A Ockershausen Arch, 600 channels.
Arch Campbell: Technology, it’s amazing.
A Ockershausen It’s incredible.
Arch Campbell: If I want to say anything today, it is the power of the unique. I think at some point in broadcasting, if that’s what we’re going to call it anymore, or media, the unique will always win. The uni cube.
A Ockershausen I think you’re absolutely right.
Arch Campbell: Unique, that’s what made WMAL radio so big. It’s what made Channel 4 so big.
A Ockershausen And still is. Four has now become very powerful, very powerful. I’m sure they’re the big moneymaker, because CBS doesn’t deliver the audience into Nine. Of course Nine lost the people. You lose a Gordon Peterson, I mean that’s, he’s …
Arch Campbell: Nine lost everybody. They lost, well it started with the death of Glenn Brenner.
A Ockershausen Oh yeah, 1992.
Arch Campbell: Who was probably the most talented person ever to come through this market. Then they lost Peterson and Maureen Bunyon, and they lost everybody else.
A Ockershausen J.C. went daytime. They were people that made so much in our town, and so did you Arch. The life with you, is you’re still as spry as you always were, in spite of the hat. Do you know that hat is your trademark? We love it.
Arch Campbell: It is, it is. I’ve got a cap on today.
A Ockershausen No, I know that’s your cap.
Arch Campbell: It’s radio.
A Ockershausen It keeps your hair down too.
Arch Campbell: Yeah right.
A Ockershausen I’m so glad that you stayed relevant. We’re certainly looking forward to hearing more from you.
Arch Campbell: There’s still a few opportunities out on the horizon. I did an hour with Anne Hornaday.
A Ockershausen With the Post?
Arch Campbell: For, can I mention Tony Kornheiser’s name?
A Ockershausen With his podcast. She’s going with him.
Arch Campbell: He may be starting other podcasts. One may be me and her, but I don’t know. If it doesn’t turn out …
A Ockershausen If you have a nice lunch in a new restaurant.
Arch Campbell: I think the important … I left TV because I think there’s a sense that you need to leave before people say, “It’s time to go.” I have a little physical thing. I have a little eye problem with my left eye. That kind of finished me up on TV, but who knows?
A Ockershausen Arch, nobody ever watched you for your face. You have a face for radio.
Arch Campbell: I have a face for radio.
A Ockershausen That’s why you were so successful at the old WRC, but Arch thank you so much for being you. Thanks so much for being so important in Our Town. We’re going to get together with all our guests, you will get an invitation.
Arch Campbell: Oh, I love it.
A Ockershausen I hope you show up. If you can’t listen to them, you can see them and shake their hand. These are people you know and grew up with. They’ll be there.
Arch Campbell: This is an important podcast, because you know, some great stuff happened in the last generation, and you’re the guy who watched it all.
A Ockershausen I did. I’ve seen it from the, with Jim Gibbons in the fifties.
Arch Campbell: Charlie Brotman.
A Ockershausen I’ve known Charlie since we were in the fifth grade.
Arch Campbell: God I love Charlie. He got an award one night. I said, “Charlie’s so excited tonight, he dressed in black toupee.”
A Ockershausen There’s no other with you, we’re going to tell Willard the story and get him up here. Thank you so much Arch. I love Arch McDonald, but I love Arch Campbell more.
Arch Campbell: Thanks.
A Ockershausen This has been Our Town. This is Andy Ockershausen.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Our Town, Season 2, presented by GEICO, our hometown favorite, with your host Andy Ockershausen. New Our Time episodes are released each Tuesday and Thursday. Drop us a line with your comments or suggestions. See us on Facebook or visit our website at Ourtowndc.com. Our special thanks to Ken Hunter, our Technical Director, and WMAL radio in Washington D.C. for hosting our podcast. Thanks to GEICO, 15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance.
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