The Surfies

Locally produced TV shows deserve to be honored for their intelligence, their wit, their impeccably bad taste. Don't touch that remote control!

Quote-O-Matic: "There's a lot of kissing in Judaism, isn't there," Neil Lash observes. "We kiss mezuzahs. We kiss the Torah."

Fun Fact: The Jews elected to have Jesus killed by the Romans.
Educational Value:
Jews kiss a lot.
Airs: Trinity Broadcasting Network (WHFT-TV [Channel 45] in Dade)
New Concept
And the Surfie goes to...Worship TV

What happens when the co-founder of the Home Shopping Network finds God? Fort Lauderdale-based WCTD-TV (Channel 35) offers the chilling answer. Owned by born-again media mogul Bud Paxson (of ZETA-4 and WINZ radio fame), the station airs mini-sermons and Scripture interspersed with locally produced infomercials.

Production Notes: If Worship
TV had a host, it would be Stuart Smalley.
Quote-O-Matic: "We want a dual identity. In the evangelical community, we want people to look to us for inspiration. At the same time, we want other people who say, 'Hey, if you want to know what's new that's being marketed on TV, tune in to Channel 35. They've got it all." (from station manager Ed Mahoney)

Fun Fact: Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers.
Educational Value: We appear to be very close to Armaggedon.
Airs: Every minute of every day in Dade and Broward
News Broadcast
And the Surfie goes to...
Alta tensi centsn
News Broadcast
And the Surfie goes to...Alta tensi centsn

In the raging battle for America's Spanish-language consumers, Telemundo is a distant second to Univisi centsn. As such, the network has to try harder. Alta tensi centsn (High Voltage), aired weekdays from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. on WSCV-TV (Channel 51), is plainly the work of executives trying too hard. Sound-bite stories recited by hipster anchors are accented with shrieking mariachis and barking dogs. Aura the Psychic serves as political correspondent, Dr. Sexo dispenses advice to the preorgasmic, and a reporter trapped in a TV monitor screams about the latest trends. The Spin Doctors supply background music. Finally, a show faster, glitzier, and more manipulative than the news on WSVN-TV (Channel 7).

Production Notes: To accommodate Alta tensi centsn, Telemundo moved the ultraviolent and locally produced Ocurri cents asi to prime time.

Quote-O-Matic: "Advocacy journalism and alternative news delivered in an oftentimes-humorous fashion." (from a press release)

Fun Fact: Anchor-hunk Ricardo Celis wears outfits that are oftentimes humorous.

Special Honorary
Surfie for Lifetime Achievement
And the Surfie goes to...
WSVN-TV (Channel 7) anchorman Rick Sanchez
Special Honorary Surfie for Lifetime Achievement
And the Surfie goes to...WSVN-TV (Channel 7) anchorman Rick Sanchez

To a man who can do more with one sigh than Richard Burton did with all of Shakespeare. In your name, we will be contributing all the free giveaways we received (the ones we couldn't eat, anyway) to the Betty Ford Clinic.

Stargazing Program
And the Surfie goes to...
Star Hustler
Stargazing Program
And the Surfie goes to...Star Hustler

"Some people hustle pool. Some people hustle cars. But have you ever heard about the man who hustles stars?" He dresses in bright windbreakers, frolics on the rings of a computer-generated Saturn, and recites Galileo. He is Jack Horkheimer, the congenitally enthused executive director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium and host of Star Hustler. Unlike most other educational programs, which feature talking heads blathering ad nauseam, Horkheimer takes about five minutes to explain where the stars are.

Cheese Factor:
Cheez Whiz
Production Notes: After Horkheimer urged viewers to gaze at the night sky through a toilet paper roll, Prince William, the future King of England, was spotted doing just that.

Network Equivalent:
Willard Scott
Fun Fact: Horkheimer, whose show is syndicated and available on video, has been parodied on the Disney Channel.

Airs: Various times late at night on WPBT-TV (Channel 2) and WLRN-TV (Channel 17); check listings

Educational Program
And the Surfie goes to...
Dial-A-Teacher Plus
Educational Program
And the Surfie goes to...Dial-A-Teacher Plus

You've got to hand it to the Dade County School Board. With many of its inner-city schools crumbling, the honchos still have the chutzpah to pour money into running a TV station. Maybe they realize that kids spend more time in front of the tube these days than doing homework. Dial-A-Teacher is a curious alchemy of the two activities. The live call-in show features a teacher -- often suffering a severe case of nerves -- running through a typical lesson with the help of student callers.

It's a hit-or-miss affair. As in school, the lesson is often a dud. Other times you can catch an extremely cool science experiment, or an ex-hippie lecturing about the elitist legacy of planned communities.

Production Notes: Iffy phone connections provide for much of the show's suspense. Only about half the callers actually make it on the air.

Fun Fact: Students who dislike their teachers have a chance to rattle them on live TV.

Parting Gifts: We learned how to grow mold.
Educational Value: During a lesson about water, a third grader asked, "How much water is in the world?" The teacher did not know.

Airs: 6:00 p.m. weekdays on WLRN Cable-TAP Channel 37
Nostalgia Program
And the Surfie goes to...Rewind

With high-tech equipment, a studio, and a channel at its disposal, Metro-Dade is one of the busiest producers of local programming. The staff, however, prides itself on cranking out shows that are "positive," "informative," and stultifyingly boring. "We don't do wacky," is how one terrified telebureaucrat puts it. It would figure, then, that the most exciting show on MDTV is Rewind, which showcases local news reports and specials from the Fifties to the early Eighties. See how teevee commemorated historical events such as the Cuban missile crisis, the lunar landing, Castro's revolution, and the civil rights movement.

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