When I first got to Connecticut, back in 1984, we had one very unusual station on our cable system. It was WHCT, Channel 18 and it was owned by a church, headed by Dr. Gene Scott¹.
Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, Gene Scott was on TV. You may not know the name, but you’ll recognize Gene Scott. Red cheeks and lots of white hair on his head and face.
Often Dr. Scott would be seen preaching in front of a white board full of biblical references. There were lines and arrows connecting ideas and thoughts. I didn’t actually see him draw on the board, just stand in front of it and sometimes reference it.
24/7 means lots of time to fill – which seemed to pose little problem for Gene Scott. If he went to do something he felt interesting, religious or not, he’d bring a camera… a handheld shaky camera. I saw programs where he raced harness horses around a track. On others he shot skeet.
Often Dr. Scott would have a big fat cigar clenched in his mouth. He’d stand while the camera panned counselors at a bank of phones. There was a song, sung by a chorus with barbershop type tight harmony that he favored. “Play I want to know,” he’d shout, and on would come a tape of the singers.
I’m not a religious man, but obviously I found Dr. Gene Scott moderately interesting. He was an anachronism. Actually, he was more of a character. What did harness horses or skeet shooting or even his saxophone solos have to do with religion? Who knows. But to Gene Scott, it all made sense.
I always felt I saw a twinkle in his eye, a little implied wink that said, “I know I’m over the top. I really don’t care.” Maybe I was reading too much into what he was doing. I do know, on quiet nights when nothing else was on TV, I would watch just to see what he’d do next.
At some point, in the midst of a legal battle he probably wasn’t going to win, Dr. Scott got rid of Channel 18. Look so much else he was involved in, the sale had complex subplots and the station went dark.
I forgot about Dr. Gene Scott until today when I read he had died. He was larger than life. Undoubtedly, his tapes will continue to play on-the-air somewhere making him larger than death as well.
¹ – Amazingly enough, from his website: “Dr. Gene Scott