Service club films 1,000th ‘KiwaniTalk’ episode, looks forward to next 1,000

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Milestone episode in the can
Photo by Bob Oliver
“KiwaniTalk” host Gary Gardner (fourth from left) discusses the agenda of the 1,000th episode with director Ken McCollom (second from left) and fellow hosts Ray Scoboria (left), Jeanette Christie and Skip Armstrong prior to filming Thursday. The show began filming in 1991 and is one of the longest running public access shows in the country.

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Nearly 24 years after its first episode was taped in the old Cablevision building on Mercantile off Greenfield, the Kiwanis Club of Dearborn filmed it’s 1,000 “KiwaniTalk” episode at Dearborn High School Thursday.

“We’ve come a long way,” “KiwaniTalk” host Gary Gardner said. “We’re one of the longest running show on public access in the country and it’s amazing to look at how far we’ve come.”

Started in 1991 by the late Frank Bewick — former Kiwanis Club member and Times-Herald Newspapers founder — the show allows Kiwanis members a chance to interview and highlight different things going on in Dearborn and different personalities, including former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Michigan Supreme Court justices, athletes, business owners and one time a UFO hunter.

“The shows started unscripted and we’ve kept them that way because we want the interaction between the guest and host to be spontaneous,” Gardner said. “It has definitely created some memorable moments on camera.”

Gardner said Kiwanians try to film four episodes on the first Thursday of every month, and the show has rotating hosts.

“That was something Frank wanted because he didn’t want the show to be about the host,” Gardner said. “Frank was a great host because he was a good interviewer but the rest of us had to learn to get comfortable in front of the camera because we were all eventually put in front of it.”

The 1,000th episode was broken into two parts, the first of which will air July 3 and the second July 10.

The milestone episodes feature commentary by hosts Gardner, Jeanette Christie, Ray Scoboria and Skip Armstrong, but are mainly driven by old clips of the show, highlighting past sets, hosts and guests as well as pay tribute to the show’s founder.

“We want to pay tribute to Frank’s legacy, so we included clips from the 700th episode, which he hosted, and others,” Gardner said. “This show wouldn’t have happened without his work.”

The show was originally shown on public access in Dearborn but is now shown throughout Wayne County and even in parts of Oakland County.

“We’re on 42 cable outlets now and the Internet, so it’s really grown,” Scoboria said.

Scoboria began working with “KiwaniTalk” about episode 600 and said he is recognized for it in the community.

“We don’t know how many viewers we have but I’ve been stopped many times by someone saying, ‘Hey, aren’t you that guy from the television show?'” Scoboria said. “That’s always nice.”

Armstrong, who has been working on “KiwaniTalk” since about the 10th episode, said the crew has stayed true to the original intention of the show over the years.

“Frank would be proud that we’ve kept the show going and continue to have fun with it,” Armstrong said. “I’m looking forward the the next 1,000 shows.”

The show airs at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 p.m. Thursdays on Comcast channel 18.

More than 150 episodes are also available for viewing online at vimeo.com/kiwanitalk.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)

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