Pioneering Rabblerouser

(Photo: Joe Pyne, courtesy The Film Detective)

TV talk shows were once polite forums for discussion. Then came Joe Pyne.

First on local TV in L.A. and then nationally in syndication, Pyne shook up the airwaves in the 1960s by being sensationalistic, confrontational and overtly political – paving the way for the likes of Jerry Springer, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and even Howard Stern.

The Film Detective has now unearthed six rare color episodes of The Joe Pyne Show from 1965, featuring such guests as civil rights activist James Meredith, marijuana reform advocate Dr. Joel Fort and sci-fi writer/social critic Harlan Ellison. Shows open with Pyne’s “Beef Box,” featuring audience members airing their grievances. You can stream the episodes free on the web at, or via iOS, Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV

You can also view numerous less-pristine Joe Pyne clips on YouTube, or the following 19 minutes, from Dailymotion:   

In the next clip, a fight breaks out onstage. Steve Kane – then a Pyne producer and, for the past four decades, a Pyne-type conservative talk radio host in South Florida – is the man in glasses who intercedes.   

For more on Joe Pyne — and efforts to preserve old TV — we recommend the article “Joe Pyne was America’s First Shock Jock” from Smithsonian Magazine’s June 2017 issue.

For a closing thought, we turn to Jack Gould, writing in The New York Times 53 years ago today: “If his untoward mouthings go unchecked and precipitate a flood of imitators, as so often is the case in the fad-conscious business of radio and television, then broadcasting will come to rue the hospitality it has according the smirking side-show barker who on the air appears to be concerned only with inducing the marks to enter his tent.”

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

View All Articles

Leave a Comment