Bombshelter Videos - circa 1985, Anchorage AK.
Before the Bombshelter Videos premiered in Seattle, November of 1987, Frank Harlan originally began producing and developing the series in September of 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 format and created sketch comedy-style TV commercials to fill in the blanks (like a real TV show).
Once Harlan decided to develop the program for broadcast television, a 30 minute format would be the easiest concept to pitch.
Bombshelter Videos premiered in Seattle, Washington 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 1:00 AM on Thursday nights for 52 weeks. His plan was that the show would be produced and paid for with sponsorships and advertising.
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 Eatern 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, NorthWeast Rock aired on KTZZ from May 1989-Sept 1994.
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 commerciall 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.”
bill bored's bombshelter videos created a cult-like following of late night fans that credit the programs weekly broadcasts for playing a significant role, in exposing them, to what ultimately became known internationally as "grunge" and the "seattle music scene".
Photo: Frank shoots video of Rob from Coffin Break at the infamous OK Hotel
there was bombshelter videos and a lot of great bands rockin' Seattle!