Okay, I only thought this stuff was buried under a mile of soft peat somewhere.
Sometime in 1994, at the first TV station where I worked, I got shanghaied into being on-air talent during kids’ programming. Our kids’ club talent had just left, and there was a perfect storm brewing:
- The Humane Society did pet-of-the-week spots in our kids’ programming, which helped the station to fulfill its “local public service” quota. Those spots now had no host.
- The station had just gotten a pith helmet in a National Geographic promo kit.
- I was already on the payroll.
With no contract, no additional pay, and no perks, I was suddenly… Explorer Earl.
Now, I should point out that I was already no stranger to making a fool of myself in front of a camera, and so perhaps I wasn’t thinking clearly when I said “sure, I’ll do it,” but now I was making a fool of myself before a much larger audience (even the last-rated station outstripped the cable access channel… well… most of the time; production values, on the other hand, were about equal between the two).
I was Explorer Earl for the better part of a year. I seem to remember that there was a promo shoot that everyone but me was aware of, and my failing to show up meant that Explorer Earl simply never returned from the jungle one day. I’d pissed off the wrong folks. (When I returned to the Fort Smith market a few years later, of course, I emerged from the jungle and said “Mr. Livingston, I presume?” Okay, bad inside joke.)
It was okay, I got kitties out of the deal.
I was combing through the directory of flash videos in my work section and found these; I’d completely forgotten that I had digitized them. (Timestamps on the files say I Sorenson Squeezed them in 2006 – probably something I did right after I got my Avid.)
So now, much to my immense embarrassment, I present you a chapter of Fort Smith TV history best forgotten: the short-lived adventures of Explorer Earl.
Go easy on me. I was young. I needed the money… of which there really wasn’t any.