It was black and white, 15-inch­es across (diag­o­nal­ly), and sat on a wood­en table shaped like a stop sign — our first TV set. Our par­ents sat in com­fy chairs while we four boys hud­dled on the floor to watch our shows. Then one evening, a Wednesday in July, with a rerun of The Bionic Woman, my dad and the neigh­bor across the street walked into the liv­ing room with a huge box — it was a col­or TV. My life changed forever.

While also a vora­cious read­er, I couldn’t get enough of TV shows and movies. Emergency, Adam-12, The Six Million Dollar Man, Wide World of Sports, the year­ly view­ings of The Wizard of Oz and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – fan­tas­tic visu­als and storytelling. 

black crt tv turned on on white table

In col­lege, a few of us even worked our class sched­ules around Days of Our Lives, and we nev­er missed an episode of Letterman or The X‑Files. Like most media, there were the good and bad ves­sels of con­tent – West Wing, Roots, and Happy Days mixed with Manimal, Hello Larry, and My Mother the Car. I always felt, though, no mat­ter what was air­ing on the 3–6 chan­nels, I would be enter­tained on some level.

On the local inde­pen­dent chan­nel in Louisville, along with week­end mon­ster movies, there was an after-school children’s pro­gram, Presto the Magic Clown. Presto would be joined by some pup­pet friends and share car­toons and jokes — but the best part was his mag­ic tricks. I wrote him a total of four let­ters, always request­ing the Sands of the Desert trick. It seemed that the only time I missed the show was when he read my let­ters on the air, but he did announce my birth­day each year. The world of TV became real to me when I met Presto at the State Fair and he asked my name.

I majored in Radio-TV at Murray State. From the very first semes­ter, the cur­ricu­lum involved hands-on train­ing at the cam­pus TV sta­tion and audio labs. My pas­sion was on the radio side, work­ing at three dif­fer­ent sta­tions dur­ing my time there, but being in the tele­vi­sion stu­dio was kin­da dreamy. I ran cam­eras, lights, and con­trol room oper­a­tions. I pro­duced and host­ed a live three-day auc­tion, per­formed a one-per­son play, wrote and pro­duced a few news pack­ages, and served on a pan­el dis­cussing cam­pus racism. 

I was lit­er­al­ly behind the cur­tain of TV magic.

In my first apart­ment after my move to a North Carolina beach town, I bought my first TV set – it was an unboxed floor mod­el from Lowe’s and cost $100. Even when I was doing oth­er things, the set was on while I was in my place. A friend sug­gest­ed that the tele­vi­sion was my room­mate, some­thing to help me feel less lone­ly. This beach town also had movie and TV stu­dios — I was over the moon. Many of my friends were the­atre actors there and would appear in all sorts of pro­duc­tions – Matlock, Dawson’s Creek, Sleeping with the Enemy, Firestarter, Super Mario Brothers. They filmed an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles out­side my apart­ment win­dow because of the brick street, and I got to help the crew of Radioland Murders with a piece of clas­si­cal music from my job at the pub­lic radio station.

My son and I are big fans of the Netflix series Stranger Things. When we lived in South Carolina, we took two road trips to the Atlanta area to vis­it film­ing sites of the show – a huge bout of fun! My wife and I watch our sto­ries each evening – we’ve gone through sea­sons of Elementary, Castle, Bones, and The Mentalist, among oth­ers. I think I dri­ve her a bit crazy, though, with my con­stant com­pan­ion by my side – the IMDB app (Internet Movie Database). Anything you ever want to know about any film or show – cast, set loca­tions, goofs, triv­ia – it’s all there. 

I only wish I could fig­ure out Presto’s Sands of the Desert trick.

  • Jim Trimble

    Jim Trimble is a priest serv­ing Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Winchester. He grew up in Louisville, grad­u­at­ed from Murray State University, and worked in a vari­ety of roles at pub­lic radio sta­tions for 12 years. After sem­i­nary and ordi­na­tion, he served church­es in Kentucky and South Carolina. Married to Nancy Gift, a Berea College pro­fes­sor, he has a son and two step-daugh­ters, along with a num­ber of dogs, cats, and chick­ens near College Park.