20 Years of "just testing..."
First show aired April 3, 1996
As I write this, it is 20 years to the day that just testing... first went over the airwaves. Well, strictly speaking, over the cables... The first time it was shown was Wednesday evening, April 3rd, 1996, in Rochester, over their local access channel. It aired several times during the month, both there and on Albert Lea's cable access channel.You can watch the whole show below - although, due to copyright issues, we had to remove the Queensrÿche video that we started out the program with. (The song was Bridge. See the official video here.)
We had decided to go with a monthly show. We didn't have the time or resources to make a weekly one. We had asked a few record companies to send us some videos for the show, and they had started to come in. We used the Queensrÿche song for this show. All we had for video equipment were a couple of VHS camcorders, so we checked out a (tube) video camera and a 3/4" (or U-matic) tape deck to record with from Rochester's cable access people. We taped two local bands live on stage at a local bar.
For our first show, we featured the Ski Band from Iowa.They had already been around a while, and passed our test for getting on the show - they had some original tunes. Dave, Jim, and his wife Cindy taped the band at the Powerhouse Bar in Freeborn. One of the cameras was extremely dark,as tube cameras need a lot of light which small stages don't often have. I think this was an old camera that I had saved from the junkpile of the TV station I worked at. The audio turned out pretty good, though. After the performance, the band (most of them) went over to Dave's house, where he taped an interview.
At home, there was more discarded TV equipment - two old boat anchor 3/4" tape machines, to create the master tape. I had a Windows 95 computer using a Rainbow Runner video capture card, which was just powerful enough to create some graphics for the show. A guy I worked with at the station, who also did local radio, acted as our announcer. Jim and I put that first live video together, of the Ski Band's song Madman, and we were off. Eventually we had our first half hour of just testing...
We used one of the band's songs to open our show, and included a song or two from the Powerhouse taping often to fill a spot in future episodes when needed. The Ski Band kept going long after our show went off the air. Sadly, a couple of the members have passed away. (Please check out their Facebook page.)
So, here is that first show in all its glory. The tape has not held up well, but what can you expect after 20 years.
And, to quote Rufus from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, "They do get better".
...As this show was running, we were already putting the next one together. Show #102 would feature the band Roadhouse, from the Office bar in Owatonna, Minnesota. Plus, an interview with a once famous guitarist living in Clarion, Iowa, sometimes known as GB...