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Archive for Sunday, July 15, 2001

SUN 7-15 Imagination Workshop

July 15, 2001

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A popular radio comedy show will be making different waves this fall -- on television.

"The Imagination Workshop," KANU-FM 91.5's sketch-comedy show taped two live performances Saturday for a three-part public television series.

"We're videotaping the radio show, and we're all kind of wondering how it's going to work," said Kip Niven, one of the actors. "I think it's going to be a wonderful opportunity for us. It's a chance to reach a wider audience."

The shows were taped in front of a live audience at Nichols Hall on the Kansas State University campus and will be edited for a series of three, 30-minute television shows that will air in September on KCPT-TV, a Kansas City public television station.

The series is a unique crossover experiment, said Darrell Brogdon, program director at KANU and producer and principal writer for the award-winning radio show.

The television show will feature classic pieces from "The Imagination Workshop" catalog, such as "The Old Ranger," "Incompetents Hospital" and "Blimp Commandoes," Brogdon said.

"We're doing a radio show on television -- go figure," he said. "It's still going to look like the show we do at Liberty Hall. Whether or not that's going to work, who knows?"

Although "The Imagination Workshop" has made numerous television appearances, including an hour-long 10th anniversary special in 1995, Brogdon said it was unique to present a radio show as a series on television.

"I think it's really going to be a tremendous opportunity," he said.

Niven calls it "a completely different beast" for the troupe.

"Some of the early television comedy shows were radio shows," he said. "But I don't know that I've ever heard of anything like this."

Niven said he hoped the television series would garner more attention from sponsors and radio stations, turning the show into a nationally known weekly radio show such as "A Prairie Home Companion" and "Whad'Ya Know," both broadcast by NPR.

"We hope it's going to help to move -- not away from Lawrence -- but Lawrence and beyond," he said. "There's enough talent."

Affter 16 years on-air, "The Imagination Workshop" also is planning a name change this fall. Although the show is broadcast nationwide on public radio, the name just doesn't stick with listeners, or describe what the show is about, Brogdon said.

"From some research we'd done over the past year, we thought that nationally the name is something of a liability," he said. "It's a little ambigious."

Brogdon and Niven said the goal of a new name was to better describe the show. But of a two-page list of ideas, one hasn't really risen to the top.

"Nobody has been able to come up with the definitive name," Niven said.

In any case, the show will go on, starting a new season in October. And maybe the television series will launch a more regular show.

"It's the most fun I've ever had as a performer and I've been a professional actor for 30 years," Niven said. "If I could do this every week, it would be the best."

-- Staff writer Matt Merkel-Hess can be reached at 832-7187.

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