The humble beginnings of working for the FOX affiliate in Syracuse-New York as a Master Control Operator, I got the chance to be part of some special events and programming.
There was the Million Man March, although I could not get the time off to attend, myself and Kevin Cook set the news feed in the studio so that we could get all the live coverage uninterrupted. NO ONE in the building bothered us that day! The other event was watching history in the making: The Arsenio Hall Show. Arsenio took late night by storm and struck fear into Leno and Lettermen. I know the whole behind the scenes with Arsenio. He changed late night by introducing music, movies, and actors, for those who would have never gotten the chance to sit on the couch and be heard on late night television. Arsenio was reaching ALL demographics and he was able to connect to a generation and a culture that was getting ignored by mainstream. Arsenio was the voice. From Eddie Murphy, Michael Jackson, Tupac, Whoopi Goldberg,Whitney Houston, Mike Tyson and President Bill Clinton, The Arsenio hall Show had them as guest. Arsenio broke barriers. Arsenio stayed in his lane. It was never about being number one, of course if that happened that would be great, but it was about filling a void and proving their was a market for the culture, that a black man could host a late night talk show, and Arsenio was a doing his way.
There was one show, I remember, where Arsenio got into it with some hecklers who came to protest his show about someone who was supposedly gay that he was having as a guest on the show. There was no cut to commercial Arsenio handled it. When networks would complain that the show was to black Arsenio would push back and have the like of Leaders of the New School, Digital Underground, NWA, and Naughty by Nature because these were artist that needed a boost to their career and by doing that, you started to see the other late night shows follow suit. Arsenio was not about being controlled and having the same old guest as the other shows were having, he was opening up the market to display other talent. Without Arsenio, I doubt Limp Bizkit, George Lopez, A Tribe Called Quest, would have gotten to the next level. We loved it!
I remember when Arsenio had the one guest whom the folks behind Hollywood did not want to give any publicity: Minister Louis Farrakhan.Hollywood started sending threats asking for agents to not have their clients booked and boycott the show. Even the Fox affiliates were having meetings to boycott and not air the show. Myself and Kevin Cook, we had to explain to management, that all Arsenio was doing was giving Farrakhan the platform for a hard nose interview (which by the way was awesome) to explain himself. It was no different than any other show that having a controversial guest on their show. It was at this point where Arsenio wanted out but there were others who were trying to convince him to stay. Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah, and even Robert De Niro all kept trying to get Arsenio to not end his show. Like many others I felt he should have kept going, but I also understood Arsenio was holding to his principles. After that interview, in my opinion, Hollywood black-balled Arsenio.
I would to tell people, that Arsenio would be back. My hope was that B.E.T. would bring him back. George Lopez returned the favor and had Arsenio on his show to THANK him. If you ever watched the George Lopez show, it reminded you of The Arsenio Hall Show. Then with all these networks, OWN, ASPIRE, Centric, TV-One, Bounce TV, and Diddy’s channel but no one did anything. Arsenio’s appearance on the Apprentice and WINNING rose his stock. Arsenio has come full circle and even though the journey was a long one. Arsenio is back! Glad for him! I will be watching (unless I get a job with him)!