LIVE ON TAPE is part of a bygone era in broadcasting.  The series was produced before the Internet, YouTube, MySpace and the like.  It was made at the tail-end of a time when local television stations still produced their own shows for broadcast (other than news programs), back when there might be a local horror host showing bad movies, or a local personality who hosted cartoons in the afternoon.
Live on Tape was an original sketch television series (and at times nearly a sitcom), that was locally produced, but not sponsored or affiliated with any advertiser.  It was an attempt to create original content for the Quad City broadcast area done right in their own backyard made with local “talent”.
The series aired at 10pm on Saturday nights, directly opposite the local news broadcasts. Live on Tape was geared toward 8 to 15 year olds who might be stuck home on Saturday nights with nothing to watch (this was the early era of cable TV, before there were hundreds of channels).  While the 8 to 15 year olds were the bulk of the audience, the show also attracted a following of older teens and twenty-somethings.
Viewing Live on Tape today you’ll see that some of it works, some doesn’t, and some makes absolutely no sense at all, but it’s still fun - albeit dated.
The series was done with absolutely no budget.  Most of the people involved donated their time on the show.  Each episode was generally produced in one week, from script to TV screen: the shows were written in a day, shot in half a day with no rehearsal, then cut together as quickly as possible to get it on the air.  This was all done with a production crew of only a few.   So to say that the show was “slapped together as fast as possible” is fairly accurate.  But, given these production limitations, Live on Tape is at times better than one would expect, and very often exactly what you would expect.
By today’s standards the video and production techniques were extremely primitive.  The late 80’s, when Live on Tape was made, was just before the explosion of digital media and personal computers.  Today’s home computer systems and consumer camcorders can edit video and create effects that far surpass the national TV broadcasters of the day. Live on Tape is not only a product of its time, but also of its environment - small town Midwest during the 80’s.  Sometimes it’s so bad, it’s good... and other times it’s just, um... bad... but hopefully a fun bad.
LIVE ON TAPE was a late-night comedy sketch show that aired on Saturday nights at 10pm on KLJB-TV (FOX 18) in Davenport Iowa from 1987 until 1990. Except for news programs "Live on Tape" was the only locally produced entertainment show at that time in the Quad City area. And the only original sketch comedy show produced in the Midwest. Working with local talent, no budget, cheap sets, Live on Tape was rough, cheesy, but overall fun local television. The skits ranged from the truly awful, to some inspired comic moments with such characters as: E.J. Crackerhorn, Arnie Upshoe, Guy Newswarthy, Uncle Joey, Nosey, Clive Knobfinder, Zippy Spamhammer, and Bongo the Exploding Clown (to name a few).
Much of the humor poked fun at local and national personalities, spoofed commercials and TV shows, but also included silly adventures of the show's cast of regular characters -- be that sending them through a black hole after a stockpile of super-hairspray goes nuclear and blasts the studio into space, or bombing Kewanee Illinois with Mallo Cups in a failed attempt to keep Cosmonauts Ivan Drombollo and Voster Slepenski from taking over the air-waves.
More than a kid's show and not quite Masterpiece Theatre, Live on Tape remains a unique example of cheesy, but fun local television.
Copyright © 1987, 2006 Thomas Hart
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More behind the scene pictures in the photo section.