MICHIGAN, United States (SND) — Talk show host and political satirist Stephen Colbert surprised the Michigan town of Monroe with a temporary takeover of a local public access show. The hilarious 41 minute episode of “Only in Monroe” originally aired at midnight on Michigan’s Mpac station, but went viral on YouTube soon afterward.
At the outset, Colbert chats with the program’s regular hosts, Michelle Bowman and Kaye Lani Rae Rafko Wilson. Topics include pedicures and an ongoing feud between a local restaurant owner and a mysterious Yelp user known as “Mark M”. Around 22:00 minutes in, Colbert welcomes “a local Michigander who is making a name for himself in the competitive world of music.” That local Michigander? Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem.
I was there, on Monroe public access television, with @StephenAtHome: https://t.co/9HzvHGMGPf
— Marshall Mathers (@Eminem) July 1, 2015
You can watch the full episode here:
Lance Sottile, the program director of Mpact, spoke to the New York Times on Wednesday. He provided a little background info on how the Colbert take-over came about.
What kinds of programming are typically shown on your channel?
“We’re a local public-access TV channel and radio station, and we promote Monroe. The community members can become volunteers of our facility and use it for the programs they come up with. We air on a cable channel, through the local cable companies, and also on YouTube as well. What you saw on ‘Only In Monroe,’ that’s pretty much how the shows go. Talking about local events and interviewing people from the United Way, Red Cross. The college, for instance, does a show about education. We have a cat doctor, a veterinarian, that comes in and talks about cat health. It’s a wide variety of shows that we run.”
How did this particular show with Stephen Colbert come together?
“Stephen Colbert wanted to host the show with Kaye Lani and Michelle, the “Only in Monroe” show, and they were happy to give up the hosting duties to him.”
I take it this is not a common occurrence.
“Oh, no. It was pretty awesome.”
How long ago did they reach out to you about this? Did you think you were being pranked?
“It took some time to figure it out and see what the plan was. And then we realized it was real, and we were, like, ‘Hey, definitely, man. We’re all about it.'”
When was this episode taped?
“This was taped yesterday and it was aired last night, at midnight, for the first time and it’s been airing all day. Our policy states that a program that’s produced here at Mpact has to be aired on our channel before it can be distributed in other means. So they had to air it last night before we could share it with the world on YouTube.”
Were you able to do any advance publicity or promotion for this?
“The biggest part of it was that it was supposed to be a surprise. And it was a surprise. It was a surprise for all of us. We didn’t know that the guest was going to be Eminem until the day of. It just sort of happened and we were like, ‘Oh – oh my gosh.'”
Did the Colbert people request any special accommodations or amenities while they were there?
“We made it happen. That’s the best I can say. And it worked.”
Do they have ratings for public-access broadcasts? Is there any way to know how this did?
“Not specifically. We’re not terribly concerned with that as a public-access facility. We’re not commercial, so we don’t worry about getting the advertisers.”
What could happen after this that will ever surpass this? Do you worry that you’ve peaked?
“Do you mean me, personally?”
I mean for the station – is this as good as it could get?
“You never know what the future may hold, apparently. We found that out.”
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