From the ages of 40 to 45, I produced and hosted a New Jersey statewide television talk show. Now at 62, in considering working in television again, I ask myself if the spark is still there.
At 62, To Keep The Spark Alive
By Richard Mabey Jr.
From 1993 to 1998, I produced and hosted a weekly television talk, Cross-Talk, which was seen throughout the state of New Jersey, every Wednesday night at eight o’clock on the Cable Television Network of New Jersey. The show was filmed at a small college in northern New Jersey. When I look back, I realize that it is a lot of hard work to produce and host a weekly television talk show.
Editing a weekly talk show requires a person to be extremely patient and detail oriented. Something that came easily to me.
One of the biggest challenges for me, in producing a television talk show, was the incredible time consuming process of editing the film. In each show, I would have to make the quick decision as to which camera angle to use on a certain portion of the show. I always made sure that there were at least three cameras rolling during filming. A lot of times, four or five cameras were used to increase the variety of camera angles.
I have to confess that editing came fairly easy for me. However, at 62, I wonder if I’ll still have the touch. More and more, I find myself drawn to the idea of once again getting back on the saddle and riding the horse of producing a weekly television show. What scares me is that I’m not as quick as I was at 40. I’m not as sharp minded as I once was.
Aside from needing five gallons of patience to edit film, a producer needs to be a teacher and a leader. The producer needs to inspire his or her staff to embrace the overall vision of the television show.
When I was 40, I had a certain degree of confidence in myself. I had a calling for leadership. But leadership requires a ton of energy. A producer needs to teach his or her staff details of operations. And, the producer absolutely must inspire his or her staff to share the vision of excellence to produce a sterling quality television show. Something that at 62, I have a certain reservation about.
In producing a weekly television show, there are a thousand and one details that have to be worked out before even thinking about setting foot into the studio. I often spent hours upon hours, in my office, working out details, writing script, and writing instructional memos for the staff.
Television production time is incredibly expensive. So, even before thinking about setting foot on the set, I would spend hours upon hours working out details for the show in my office. I am an extreme perfectionist. It’s just the way that I am. And, I am a hopeless workaholic. So, I worked hard to see to it that all the ducks were in order, before setting one foot onto the television set.
Now, at 62, I wonder if I will still have the energy and the stamina to work that hard, for that many long hours at a time.
One of the jobs of producing a weekly television show, that is often taken for granted, is making sure that the set is 100% in tip-top shape. It sounds like a small thing, but in reality it is a big factor in the success of any television show.
As a producer, I always made sure that I arrived a good two hours before the appointed time for the staff to arrive. So, is we were scheduled to begin filming at nine in the morning, I made sure that I was on the set at least by seven o’clock to check things out.
I had a check list that was type written and three pages long. It included checking the smallest details, including if the background sign was perfectly straight. And, this may sound funny, making sure that all the chairs on the set were safe and secure. Once again, at 40 I had the energy to do all this. I wonder now, if I were to get back into television production, if I would still have that abounding energy.
Right now, I live in a gated community in Central Florida. Oh, it was fun and games for a while. But right now, I feel this undeniable call to return to the “real world” and get back to making a real contribution to society.
After my five year stint as a television producer and talk show host, I began working at an ad agency. At the ad agency I proofread, edited and wrote copy for magazine ad layouts. I also moonlighted as a teacher at a small college in northern New Jersey. For the most part, I taught classes on creative writing. I did teach some classes on business writing, but mostly I taught creative writing.
Now at 62, I yearn to get back on the saddle and ride off to the open prairie of television production. At this point, I’d be happy to work a camera, be a prop person or work with set design. But, deep in my heart there is that undeniable calling to return to the working world.