Top 40 Music TV Hit the Airwaves
more than 43 years ago in Atlanta, Georgia
|The "stars" of this invention were energetic and talented amateur performers and ballet students dancing spontaneously in a sea of 1970's special effects invented by young producers in Atlanta, Dallas, Memphis, Kansas City, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Philadelphia. The program was also seen in other cities, including New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Charlotte, San Francisco and Sacramento in 1970.|
Watch The Now Explosion Samples
with Enhanced Quality
...and then get the whole story below...
March 14, 1970 on WATL-TV, Atlanta
Photo: March 8, 2010 by Bob Whitney
Produced in this Building
1810 Briarcliff Road
(soon to be torn down to make
room for an office building).
Above Founding Elf Bob Whitney and
Financier Joe Field outside
Now Explosion headquarters
on the program's first day,
March 14, 1970
It was unique marathon TV
The show featured locally produced music videos
for hours on end just like top forty
radio - ten years before MTV
Were you around then?
Do you remember?
interprets Rolling Stones hit
Paint It Black
and WFAA-TV Director Jim Rowley
start a two day recording session
Studio Photos at WFAA-TV, Dallas
<-- Watching playback of dancer Jeannie
Video from 3 cameras on dancer and multi-lens prism
The Pilot for The Now Explosion was produced
October 18-19-20 1969 at WFAA-TV in Dallas
Click here to see our scrapbook of that Event
Click here to see more Now Explosion
pictures on our FaceBook Group Page
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More early pictures from
The Now Explosion salute
some early stars:
The Jean Williams Dancers
See more snapshots taken inside
our Atlanta studios as the historic program began
Click below to watch historic
video excerpts of
The Now Explosion
The MAGIC Grass Valley SWITCHER
Director Jim Rowley "switches"
our first videotape session
See Credits for People
we know took part in
The Now Explosion
and tell us who we are missing
THIRTY YEARS LATER in 2000
The Now Explosion was Remembered By
The Atlanta Journal Constitution
Below is an excerpt from letter by Now Explosion producer Bob Whitney to Atlanta Journal-Constitution Radio TV Reporter, Miriam Longino, November 4, 2000 about The Now Explosion TV show produced in Atlanta in 1970. This letter followed an AJC feature article by Ms. Longino, August 3, 2000. Later the AJC published a followup article about a March 2001 reunion in Atlanta where some Now Explosion survivors celebrated and produced an archival video.
(Excerpt).....Atlanta energy and creativity did indeed launch the music video genre a full decade before MTV. The special effects that were the program's hallmark were not always easy to come by and continual invention was basic to the program's popularity.
Special effects previously unknown in video production were invented. The moving image of an individual dancer (below on the right) was created by running expensive two inch videotape that had just been recorded onto the control room floor. We - guided the moving tape - while still being recorded - across the room to be played back on a second machine seconds later. The image from the second machine was then combined ("keyed") with new images from the first machine. One camera, one dancer! Click the Image to see the video.
The strangely redundant effect - never before seen - seemed to create many dancers out of one in an eerie montage which made the dancers seem to grow new bodies while they danced to top forty hits. Such things are simple today with digital video equipment but were off-the-wall inventions in 1970. (Or would it be off-the-floor inventions.) You can imagine what the traditional channel 36 employees thought when they saw videotape running along their less than spotless floor from machine to machine.
Nowadays - you can do all of this stuff on your Laptop computer.
But in 1970 we needed 3 of these monster videotape machines
to do simple video editing.
Three mashines? Close to a million dollars!
Just the tapes alone, about $300 per hour.
(No wonder we went belly-up!)
We had to keep erasing tapes - to make new tapes!We had thought they were all erased and lost forever!!
But After more than three decades a few old tapes were discovered in
a south Florida garage...by a University interested
in rescuing cultural artifacts.
We were the artifacts and the
University of Georgia found us somehow...
with Now Explosion creator Bob Whitney
And Program Host of The time Machine, Jarrell Mason
Below are some members of the original Now Explosion crew at
WATL Atlanta - TV (CH 36) in March, 1970
Top row (l to r) Director Steve Rash, Producer Bob Whitney,
Financial Partner Joseph M. Field, founder of Entercom.
Bottom row Video DeeJay Bob Todd (Thurgaland),
Dancer/production assistant Maggie Spadafora,
and Video DeeJay Skinny Bobby Harper.
First Staff Meeting
New staff gets ready for first full weekend of The Now Explosion
on WATL-TV in Atlanta, March 14, 1970. Shown in front are Atlanta
Director Steve Rash, Associate Director Maggie Spadafora (later to
become Mrs. Steve Rash), Now Explosion Creator-Producer
Bob Whitney and Administrative Associate Debra Miller.
In the rear are the world's first tele-jockies (we called 'em VeeJays)
Skinny Bobby Harper and Bob Todd (Thurgaland.) (See below.)
John Prager, Editing Manager, is on the right.
The Now Explosion ran every hour, all weekend
and these VeeJays were worn to a frazzel for sure!
Skinny Bobby Harper and Bob Todd - on the air - 1970
In 1970, Harper made a video and talked about
The Now Explosion.
Go to YouTube to watch the Bob Harper Interview
CLICK HERE to see the Bob Todd career story
Now Explosion Production begins
in Atlanta, March, 1970
Cinematographer John Butterworth and Telejockey
Bob Todd arrive in Atlanta to start production
of The Now Explosion
The Now Explosion spent 13 weeks at Channel 36 in Atlanta.
The VeeJays were not seen on the video, but worked
from a control room adjacent
to the main studio.
With Bob Todd is his wife, Jodie.
Director Steve Rash is
in the foregound.
Photo courtesy Bob Todd
Atlanta Director Steve Rash (seated) and
Creator Bob Whitney during a Now Explosion
session in Atlanta, April,1970.
Photo courtesy Genii Leary, N E Executive Producer
Now Explosion TeleJockey, Bob Todd "It was a radio show, really. Except you knew the audience was
watching something...instead of just listening ...so,.. ofcourse, you
had something to say about what everybody was looking at as
well something about the artist, or the lyrics and the music.
We kind of had to get used to doing a
top forty show with pictures."
"Eventually - when I cut my hair and went back to just plain radio - well -
something was missing, you know what I mean?"
Bob Todd 1970 and Bob Todd today !
CLICK HERE to see the Bob Todd career story
After 13 weeks The Now Explosion moved
to Ted Turner's Channel 17 in Atlanta.
Turner Director R.T. Williams became it's new director
and the production operation was moved to
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Click here for a memory from
Ted Turner's Director of Broadcasting, Al Smith
back in good old 1970
The Now Explosion was one of the first business ventures
of the foremost radio broadcast company, Entercom.
Entercom Founder, Joseph M. Field
backed Robert V. Whitney
Productions, Inc. in this
unusual youth market
Joe Field, Entercom Founder
, The second 13 week flight of The Now Explosion
got underway in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Now Explosion creator Bob Whitney dreaming up special effects at
Videotape Associates in Ft. Lauderdale. Whitney also
doubled as Veejay as Stocky Bobby Woodstock.
Also added as featured VeeJay was South Florida radio Legend
Rick Shaw - one of the first Top forty radio jocks at
WQAM in Miami in the late Fifties. Rick was
still on the radio playing those very
same songs at Majik 102.9
in Miami until 2007.
National syndication began. First subscribing station was WPIX-TV, New York.
Stations followed quickly in Washington, San Francisco and Sacramento.
Program tapes were assembled at VideoTape Associates in
Ft. Lauderdale from video and film shot at
Miami Teleproductions in Miami and
were duplicated at Turner's
Channel 17 in
AJC reporter Miriam Longino, former Video DeeJays Skinny Bobby Harper
& Bob Todd (Thurgaland), and Now Explosion creator/producer Bob Whitney made an
archival video and remembered the great days of the Now Explosion!
Miriam Pace Longino
Bob Todd (Thurgaland)
Skinny Bobby Harper
Links to Audio