The Lost Early TV Shows of TUGM’s Lew Ojeda

TUGM has links to much of the work Joseph R. Lewis created over the last several years. I recommend you check them out and get a

The Word is Out covered important LGBT issues in Rochester, NY

glimpse of where his mind has been. As for me, I’ve mentioned to a number of people that I was involved with 2 public access TV shows in Rochester, New York many years ago.

Those shows were The Word is Out and Trash Talkin’. The second was nothing more than toying around in front of the camera, a sort of pre-youtube version of a guy looking into the webcam (clothes on, thank you) and talking a whole bunch of nonsense. In one episode—the one I’m most proud of in that series—my dear friend Barry Brennessel joined me for some shenanigans as we presented Trash Talkin’: The Morning Edition.

What I think will stand the better test of time overall, though, is the landmark series The Word is Out, which aired for a few years beginning in 1994. It was the first local TV show in Rochester, NY presenting issues and entertainment of importance to the LGBT community. Keep in mind, this was years before Logo and Here!

Trash Talkin': The Morning Edition with Lew Ojeda and Dolly (Dolt) Dentura

began their broadcasts and during the time PBS’ In The Life still had trouble airing through many stations nationwide.

A group of dedicated individuals, few of them actually audio/visual professionals, decided to put in some hard work getting a monthly show aired. With the rules laid out by RCTV at the time, we only had 4 hours of scheduled editing time in the studio each week with a Videotoaster 1.1 software program. Anyone who’s done any amount of editing knows what a woefully insufficient amount of time that is, especially with a system prone to crashing whenever you tried some clever intricate visuals.

But for the time I was involved, it was fun. I got to create a few goofy characters and enlisted the help of others, gay and straight, for my weirdo ideas, plus realized how tough it was to direct. Those folks most

The Word is Out opening logo designed by Beth Bailey

credited (and who I thank for the show’s success) are Barry Brennessel, Lainne Dexter, Jack Dyke, Dave Hull, Paul Knoke III, Paul Lapadula, Sue Morgan, Lorna Rodriguez, and Paul Scheib. We also had great art work contributions from Beth Bailey and Gregg Barringer.  Highlights of the series included some historic footage, such as the city council vote to legalize domestic partnerships (civil unions) in Rochester, NY in July 1994 and an early visit by a portion of the AIDS Quilt making a nationwide tour. I covered an incident of hate crime vandalism in Brockport in one of the few times I’ve been on the serious side of the program. And some fellow reporters had a blast at the annual Gay Pride Picnic held every year in Rochester.

The exhaustion of production kept me out of the process of filmmaking for nearly twenty years, but now with the help of Joe Lewis, I’m back into it and thrilled to be a part of it again with The Underground Multiplex. The master tapes for The Word is Out and Trash Talkin’ have been lost unfortunately. However, I’m in the process of trying to upload my personal recordings of the shows online. Be forewarned: the audio/visual quality of them won’t be so great, but I’ll announce when it happens.


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