Les Crane Show, The

A radio host named Les Crane figured into ABC’s early attempts to get into the late night market. Crane’s show went for serious talk about issues in a cross between what Mike Wallace had done and what Phil Donahue would do, with much participation from a studio audience. They were seated in a kind of amphitheater formation around the stage, and if someone in the house had a question to ask or a point to make, they’d stand up and Crane would aim his “shotgun mike” at them — a microphone that actually looked like a shotgun — supposedly to pick up their voices. (Some critics suggested the device was more for theatrics than audio.)

It was a pretty good show, though sometimes a bit overly-dramatic. ABC gave up on Crane after four months, renamed the show Nightlife and tried an array of guest hosts, none of whom clicked. So they brought Crane back, added Nipsey Russell as co-host, and tried to do a more entertainment-oriented show, which did even less well. Eventually, Crane went back to radio, and The Joey Bishop Show got the time slot. The above ticket was for one of Crane’s very first shows and it displays one of the reasons his initial format didn’t work. This was a Monday-Friday show discussing what was going on in the world, right? So why were they taping it on Saturday evening? (Thanks to Brian Gari for the ticket.)