Behind the scenes at
Before the Bombshelter Videos premiered in Seattle, November of 1987, Producer Frank Harlan originally began producing and developing the series in 1984 as a 1-hour format for independent UHF TV Station Channel 22 in Anchorage, Alaska. After being released from his position as program producer and late night Video Jock, he found himself taking refuge at the local Community Access facility in Anchorage. While there he experimented with the 30-minute broadcast television format.
Bombshelter Videos Set
a garage in Anch, AK - 1985
Sea, WA 1990
The 30-minute format would be the easiest concept to pitch to the local TV stations. Of course, the concept was a little rough around the edges for local stations to broadcast.
So Harlan went to Plan B: Buy an affordable Infomercial slot on late night TV. He ended with late night Thursday at 1:00AM. At one point Bombshelter Videos had 40,000 weekly viewers in Eastern and Western Washington and Vancouver BC.
Bombshelter Videos premiered in Seattle on the first Thursday in November 1987 (more than three decades ago) on KSTW-TV11, then based in Tacoma, WA. Producer, Frank Harlan contracted to purchase a weekly infomercial slot at for 52 weeks. The plan was that the show would be produced and paid for with sponsorships and advertising. Again, Harlan was changing the way the music and popular culture businesses in Seattle could reach out to their unique customer base.
Anybody under 35 years old probably cannot comprehend the fact that all of the happened before email, laptops, smart phones or any kind of social media. Fanzines were the social media of the alternative music scene.
Photo: Frank shoots video of Peter from Coffin Break for Video Sheet Metal
in alley behind Pioneer Square.
Even the challenge of being aired on Thursday in a late night time slot , Bombshelter Videos generated 25,000-40,000 weekly viewers from Western and Eastern Washington and across the border into Vancouver BC. Every Thursday night, from November of 1987 through October 1988, late night TV viewers got something you couldn't find anywhere else, as host Bill Bored called it,
Needless to say, that at the end of the 52nd week contract , due to the "program's controversial content" Bombshelter Videos was banned from the station. A few months later Bombshelter Videos found a new home on KTZZ-TV22 ( a local UHF station that was also broadcast on Cable channel 10). Bombshelter Videos and Harlan's other regional themed program, NorthWest Rock aired on KTZZ from May 1989-Sept 1993.
"Frank Harlan was one of the
Original Influencers of his Era."
Early episodes of Bombshelter Videos premiered, now famous, alternative rock bands like Sonic Youth, Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. BSV even produced and aired the first Sub Pop TV commercial for Soundgarden’s “Screaming Life” EP (1987). Footage was shot at the Central Tavern in Pioneer Square.
Writing, shooting and editing gave Harlan a lot of practice knocking out creative and non-traditional 30-second ads (created on a punk rock budget) for Seattle-based program sponsors like Tattoo Emporium, University Coffee, Luna Shoes and KCMU Radio. Harlan says, “Even though all of the viewers tuned in for the bands and their videos, a majority of the fan mail always praised the TV commercials.”
Photo: Frank shoots video
of Rob from Coffin Break
at the infamous OK Hotel
Catch 22 Anch, AK 1984
Bill Bored's Bombshelter Videos created a cult-like following by exposing indie music fans to the bands of that era in the PNW. Harlan's support of Seattle bands with a music video gave a lot of unknowns... known. Late night fans credit the programs weekly broadcasts for playing a significant role in what ultimately became known internationally as the "Seattle Music Scene".
there was bombshelter videos and a lot of great bands rockin' Seattle!