Bud Buschardt remembers a time when kids could come press their noses against glass windows at WFAA’s NorthPark satellite studio and watch bands of the day play top hits. Students who were old enough could even step inside and twist the afternoon away.
It was Dallas’ own version of “American Bandstand,” called “The Sump’n Else Show,” and Buschardt was its unit manager.
“The general idea was to capture a moment in time,” he said.
Years later, Buschardt would often tell stories from the glory days on the show to Sam Sauls, his fellow media professor at the University of North Texas. Finally, Sauls decided they should write a book.
“I’d tell him stories, and [Sauls] would say, ‘you ought to write these down,’” Buschardt said. “So I’d write them down on a legal pad and stick them in his mailbox. I’d come back to school, and there they were typed. And I said, ‘this guy is pretty serious.’”
Upon looking into it further, the duo found that not much had been written about local bandstand shows, so they knew they had a niche. Plus, Sauls already had publishing experience from writing a few textbooks.
“We put together as much as we could, developing the book into chapters and so forth,” Sauls said.
And those chapters tell the story of a bygone era in Dallas. The studio stood where DryBar now stands, and Buschardt remembers school kids that would come by.
“Kids from all the different Dallas schools would participate — Thomas Jefferson, Hillcrest, W.T. White, the general group out here,” Buschardt said. “We did have a dress code. Young ladies had to wear school dresses and the guys had to wear a coat and tie. Can you imagine that in this day?”
The show aired live in the afternoons from 1965 to 1968. Kids had to be sophomores in high school in order to come in and participate. In addition to musical guests, the show would also feature other activities such as contests. Some guests were national stars such as The Monkees, and others were of more local celebrity.
“The fun thing about the book is now I’m reconnecting with kids who were on the show,” Buschardt said.
With the book — given the same title as its namesake show — released in late November, the pair held a book signing at Josey Records on LBJ Freeway in December.
“I was amazed by the number of people that showed up who had been on the show or seen it being taped while it was live on the air,” Sauls said. “People have written comments on Facebook or Amazon or told us personally they had watched the show and would look forward to it so much as it came on the air. They had a personal connection to it.”
It’s that kind of memory and connection that the book’s two authors wanted to keep alive in print.
“What we wanted to do was to document this piece of local TV history that really hadn’t been done on that level,” Buschardt said. “It was probably the most fun years that I had in TV.”