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Rod Serling Historian Plans Two Talks Here

rod serling book
Courtesy University Press of Mississippi

Author Nick Parisi will discuss the Cincinnati roots and influences of The Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling here Feb. 17-19 to promote his book, Rod Serling: His Life, Work, and Imagination.

Parisi, a Long Island resident and Rod Serling Memorial Foundation board member, devoted a chapter in the book to Serling's first TV dramas on The Storm, WKRC-TV's live weekly series in 1951-52, eight years before CBS debuted his iconic Twilight Zone.

Full disclosure here: I helped Parisi research Serling's Cincinnati days by reading early 1950s TV columns in the Cincinnati Post, Enquirer and Times-Star on microfilm at the main Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. He also asked me to introduce him at his Joseph-Beth Booksellers book signing.

Credit Courtesy University Press of Mississippi
Nick Parisi

The 584-page book is the most comprehensive look at Serling's TV published since his death in 1975 at age 50.

Here's how to hear Parisi:

SUNDAY, FEB. 17: Cincinnati broadcast historian Mike Martini hosts "The Imagination Of Rod Serling: A Conversation with Nick Parisi" 5-7 p.m. at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting in the VOA's former Bethany Station, 8070 Tylersville Road, West Chester Township.

"We’re very pleased to have Nick with us to talk about a television icon who shaped the way we think about complex and controversial social issues. Serling’s work feels timeless because of his dramatic and clear-eyed approach on many topics that are still relevant in our country today," says Martini, president of the Media Heritage local broadcast archives which has a display at the VOA museum. He's also a host and producer at WMKV-FM.

Admission is free, with donations accepted at the door. Reservations are requested and can be made by contacting  Parisi will sell and sign copies of his book after the talk.

Credit Courtesy CBS
CBS publicity photo for Rod Serling for the 1959 premiere of "The Twilight Zone."

TUESDAY, FEB. 19: Parisi will talk about his lifelong fascination with Serling during a book signing at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 2692 Madison Road, in Rookwood Commons, at 7 p.m. He'll explain how he tracked down scripts, speeches, correspondence and unpublished/unproduced writings from one of the most prolific writers in television history. Admission is free.

"I've been a Twilight Zone fan since I was 10 years old," Parisi says. "Slowly and surely, I became aware of all the stuff he had written. I just admire the hell out of the guy – his philosophy and his world vision. He is one of my heroes."

Parisi, who represents clients seeking Veterans Administration benefits or Social Security disability, was a staff writer and editor for Good Times magazine in Long Island. He's also a musician and singer.

In researching the book, he visited Serling collections at New York's Ithaca College, Wisconsin Historical Society, and at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Oh., where Serling studied language and literature. After Rod and his wife Carol graduated from Antioch in  June 1950, they headed to Cincinnati whereSerling started his professional writing career at WLW. The Serlings moved to Connecticut in 1954, and then to Los Angeles before The Twilight Zone premiered on Oct. 2, 1959. 

The Sunday Serling presentation is one of a dozen programs planned at the VOA to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the VOA's operation from 1944 to 1994 in the historic Art Deco building. Here's a link to my Jan. 18 story, "VOA Museum Sets 75th Anniversary Events."

For more information about the Serling book, here's a link to WVXU's Cincinnati Edition December show when Dan Hurley and I interviewed Parisi.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.