Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Jim Cornette Explains All About the TV Distribution Process for JCP in the 1980s

Crockett TV Production / Local Promos

Arcadian Vanguard  
The following is a transcript from a brief segment of the popular "Cornette Drive Thru" podcast where Jim Cornette shed light on the process Jim Crockett Promotions went through to duplicate and distribute their TV shows in the 1980s, and also how they inserted the local TV promo segments each week. 

The discussion took place on Episode #261 of the podcast, about 55 minutes in:

"The way they duplicated their television shows, now this is primitive, but remember this is 40 years ago, and it is actually the way that, you know, small budget promotions operated like this in house up until the times that the territories went away. 

Let's say we go to Gaffney, SC, on a Tuesday night and we'd do the syndicated television taping at the college gym there in Gaffney. It's 60 miles from Charlotte, so it's about an hour drive. They owned their own television truck, the NEMO truck - - National Electronics Mobile Operation. They'd drive the truck an hour down to one of these high school or college gym around Charlotte. They'd set up the lights, they'd wire everything, they'd run the cables - - they shoot two hours of television: NWA Worldwide and NWA Pro. And that goes from 7:30 to 10:00. And each show they role live-to-tape, and you know they're gonna put a VTR in, they roll it in the truck. They leave black holes for the commercial spots and for the local promos.* 

Then they'd drive the truck back to Charlotte and they'd park it back behind the office at Briarbend. And they'd take the two master tapes in, and - - remember ol' Leonard? The guy that did the night work there that alerted me that they were throwing away the entire film archive of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling when Turner broadcasting took over and bought everything.** Leonard would put the dadgum tapes on, and I don't know how many they could make at the same time, and this was the old one inch video reels, right? So you can imagine, you gotta unroll those and put them on the spool, and get 'em all synced up and everything. And then he would hit the button and they would make multiple duplicates of that master tape at one time. And then he'd do nothing all night but just run 'em back and copy the tapes over and over - - however many they could make at a time times however many, because Wednesday morning about 9:00, Gene Anderson would be in there with Jackie Crockett on the camera and all the top babyfaces and heels would come in and do local promos, from 9:00 in the morning until 3:00 or 4:00 sometimes. And then you'd immediately hop in the car and drive three hours to Raleigh or go to the airport to fly somewhere, whatever the case. 

But, what they would do, honest to God, is they would sync the tape up for let's say Philadelphia, we got local promos to do for Philadelphia because we got a show coming up at the Civic Center. So whatever tape was going to the TV station in Philadelphia, they would reel it up to the exact point of the babyface interview segment that needed to be inserted and we'd record those interviews right onto the tape that was actually going to the TV station. And as soon as we did that interview then they'd jump ahead to the heel segment, you know, in between segments 5 and 6 or whatever, and they'd do the two minute and twenty eight second interview for them. 

The interviews were 2:28 because they left a second to get in and a second to get out, else wise they're rolling over program***, right? Once the Philly interviews were done, they'd stick it back in the case, put a label on it, and whether it was Klondike Bill or Bunk Harris, whoever that day wasn't going to get chicken at Price's Chicken Coop for lunch****, they would take the tapes to the bus station and put them on a bus to the television station in the city that was going to air it that weekend. 

So it went out on Wednesday evening and it got there on Thursday. A lot of promotions did this, they would put posters and fliers for sponsors in small towns, they'd put 'em on a bus in those days, they'd put the TV tape on a bus. And they used to have a thing called Delta Dash where before these overnight services were just common in every city in America, they would take it and put it in a box, and take it the airport and they would put it on a Delta plane. You could Delta Dash something for something like $99, and it would go on a plane, and somebody had to pick it up at baggage claim at the other end. 

But that's what they would do, they would roll these interviews into the actual tape to the TV station that weekend, there was no post production per se in terms of "OK we're going to shoot all these interviews and were gonna slate them and then were going to go back and insert them, blah, blah, blah." No, that's why the local interviews don't exist anywhere else except in tapes of the television program that aired in that specific market. 

So when you see these local promos with Tony Schiavone and the orange background or sometimes the blue background, they had and the chyron, 'Tonight! Charlotte! Tonight Greenville, Chicago!' or whatever the case from Crockett Promotions, that has to be off the actual air broadcast of that television program that weekend [that was taped at home by a fan on a VCR] because they didn't exist anywhere else."



*This was the big revelation for me: I had always assumed the local promos were sent to stations on a separate tape that would be inserted into the local brodcast by the station like any other local commercial. 

**I'm assuming this actually happened when Crockett and Dusty moved the head office from Charlotte to Dallas in 1987 or 1988 and closed down Briarbend Drive, but perhaps the TV work Jim describes above continued in Charlotte at Briarbend after the move to Dallas until the sale to Turner in late 1988.

***It absolutely now makes sense why there was always this short time gap before and after local interview spots where you would see the show's logo or whatever and could hear the crowd noise in the background of the studio going back to those days. They left room for the local promo to be a second or two early or late when taped directly into the master tape. 

****George South was the one who first told us about the weekly Chicken Coop ritual back in the day, and how he along with Bunk Harris or Klondike Bill, would sometimes make the pick-up, earning more tips from the boys than he made wrestling at the time.


Visit for complete information including links on both of his wildly popular podcasts on the Arcadian Vanguard Podcasting Network.