Do you remember listening to ‘Dancin’ on Air?’
If you were a teenager in South Jersey in the 80’s, chances are you were watching “Dancin On Air.” From October 12th 1981, to December 31st 1987, kids ran home to watch other kids dance on television to the latest hits.
There were a variety of hosts: Eddie Bruce, Bill O’Brien, Chris Trane, Andy Gury, Christy Springfield, Dave Raymond, and Mike Rossi who started as a dancer. Other dancers included Kelly Ripa and Tom Verica. I produced the “Rock Megamix,” and I even co-hosted the show once. A video tape that was destroyed for humane purposes 😉
I caught up with executive producer Michael Nise for the inside story about the show in his own words.
“The beginning of the show was really the idea of channel 17, by the Program Director Zvi Shoubin. Zvi had worked on a show in Baltimore called the Buddy Dean show, and he wanted to bring back the daily dance show. He and I spent a year going to dinners and brainstorming TV show ideas.
His suggestion was perfect for me – combining music production – TV production- and my teaching background; however the one caviat that I had to raise the initial investment to get the show off the ground. As fate would have it I did a favor for an R & B singer at our studio in Camden and he was so grateful he wanted to introduce me to his investors. Thank God he did because I couldn’t even raise 5 cents for my elementary school candy drive!
In two weeks I had the money necessary and I asked Zvi “Whats step two?” From that point it was a whirlwind. We had to design a set, build it, audition for hosts, get kids, develop a format, get the music, promote the show..*WHEW*
Upon asking Zvi when we would taping, he shocked me by informing me, it was going to be live. So the day before the first show, on a Sunday, one could find me in the cherry hill mall, buying records just before closing. This was the music for the launch on October 12, 1981.
The lesson I learned was about having a positive affirmation of the success for the show and I would never forget what I said before show one ” I am the producer of a television of a successful television dance show that would go national and rival Dick Clark 3500″, shows later, every word came true. Overnight ratings started about this time and we doubled channel 17’s ratings overnight!
The concept focused on the lives of our dancers and the music was eclectate – as long as it had a back beat to dance to.
Due to my connection in the music business, I was able to have McFadden and Whitehead of “Ain’t No Stopping us Now,” on the first show as well as an interview with an international rock star. If it wasn’t for the great working relationship of our staff including Frank and Ida Nise and Channel 17 the success would not have been possible. And of course don’t forget the kids, who danced their hearts out for 5 days a week.” (I cleaned that last sentence up to give it a G rating).
There were 600 acts that appeared on the show and just about every one of them got a boost in their career just from their appearance. CBS records marketing department couldn’t believe from their promotion people that an appearance on the little show that could would give a jolt to their artists records sales.
“Dancin’ on Air” received gold and platinum records from every major record company. It was also the reason that radio stations in the 4th largest market, started playing the song” Dancin’ on Air.”
If you grew up with “Dancin’ On Air,” or if you were on the show, visit their website, and sign up for future Entertainment Events.