If you watched a local show on WCET-TV in the past 42 years, you saw the work of producer-director Taylor Feltner.
Feltner, 65, who retires as production manager Thursday, was behind the scenes for all kinds of Channel 48 shows – back in the day when Channel 48 produced all kinds of local shows.
Not just "Lumenocity" and "Action Auction," but Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Pops concerts… Denny McKeown's gardening show… Yoga with Lilias Folan… countless hours of instructional television (ITV) classroom programs… a 2005 mayoral debate between David Pepper and Mark Mallory…. "Conversations with Irma (Lazarus)"…. and documentaries about Music Hall (2005), Powel Crosley Jr. (1988), and the 1937 Flood (1987).
He worked on many PBS telecasts from here: The Cincinnati Opera's "Elixer of Love" in 1978… Cincinnati Ballet's "Billy Sunday" with Michael Sharp in 1983….. several CSO concerts from Music Hall…. all of those Erich Kunzel Cincinnati Pops PBS holiday specials…and the "Myron Floren Presents Stars of the Lawrence Welk Show" taped in CET's huge Studio A for PBS.
Back in the day, he was part of Channel 48's team that produced weekly series like "Waite Hoyt Through the Years" with Laura Dubrow in the late 1970s… The 22-week "Congressional Outlook" Friday night series co-produced with the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly (1978)… The "It's Academic" high school quiz show... And weekly broadcasts of Dan Ransohoff's "Think Cincinnati," "Cincinnati Business Weekly," "File 48" and "Focus 48."
Those were the days.
He put together Kathy Wade's "Jazz Struck" TV shows, Bill Walters' Big Band concert, two barbershop quartet shows and the nine-week "Rock Around the Block" local rock concert series simulcast from Studio A on WEBN-FM, because TV stereo hadn't been invented yet. Jerry Springer and other local celebs introduced the show, which was produced and directed by young Jeff Heusser.
Here's the open, which "we ripped off from 'Saturday Night Live' " Feltner says, when Springer did a Chevy Chase fall before saying: "Live, from Cincinnati, It's Rock Around The Block!"
In addition to the annual "LaRosa's Hall of Fame" show honoring top high school athletes, he was behind the "High School Game of the Week" (1974-80) with announcers Dave Reinhart and Rollie Schwartz, and a UC-Miami football game on Thanksgiving.
He directed "Common Ground," CET's live race relations discussion after the April 2001 riots which aired on Sept. 6, 2011. "That was going to be our big initiative. After Sept. 11, nobody remembered 'Common Ground.' Everything changed after 9/11," he said.
He was around so long that his first "Action Auction" in 1974 was broadcast from the Convention Center. WCET-TV didn't move into the Crosley Telecommunications Center at Central Parkway, across from Music Hall, until 1976. Before that, WCET-TV's studio was located at WLWT-TV's old "Mount Olympus" studio under the Channel 5 tower on Chickasaw Street, with back office employees in the Vernon Manor.
He even tried to make me look good on TV, when I did multi-part interview series with Gary Burbank (2007) and Nick Clooney's "Clooney on Clooney" (2010). "I hope you don't mind, but you were second choice for the Nick Clooney show. We wanted George, but we couldn't get him," Feltner tells me.
Feltner, a Hamilton native and Fairfield resident, was hired in 1974 as a "shipper" after graduating from Eastern Kentucky University. He hauled heavy 2-inch ITV videotapes to and from the third-floor control room at Mount Olympus, and made two mail runs a day to the Vernon Manor offices. He was about to quit after three months, when he was offered a job in TV production. For the next 42 years, he shaped what we saw on public TV in Cincinnati.
Feltner has directed all three Lumenocity shows. Like everyone involved, he was stunned to see about 7,000 people show up for the rehearsal in 2013. So many people jammed into Washington Park that "we literally had to fight people off the (camera) platform to keep people from shaking it."
He and wife Barbara, a retired nurse, plan to travel and enjoy their two grandkids. But don't be surprised if he's back at WCET next April, for the 50th annual "Action Auction."