June 2022

I started writing this during the COVID-19 pandemic, but decided to wait until additional "materials" became available on Youtube.  I was not dissappointed!  Floyd Vivino (Uncle Floyd)  has staunchly defended the copyrights to his broadcast material and for decades almost none of it was available on YouTube. At long last, he has created his own channel so that new generations of "children" can be amused.  Before you go any further, if you are triggered by questionable references to minorities and/or sexual innuendo (and men in dresses!) don't say I didn't warn you... but when you are done looking at this page, seriously, go back and subscribe to Uncle Floyd's YouTube channel.  Don't avoid, watch Uncle Floyd!

Some television and personal history

As this is ostensibly an engineering web site we have to at least discuss something in terms of megaHertz.. rewind the clock to the late 1970s.  Sitting around a frat house at 812 Castle Point Terrace in Hoboken NJ in the late afternoon... the Three Stooges come on (channel 11, WPIX), and there is some animated discussion about who is better, Shemp or Curley. This is all just a prelude to the main attraction, the Uncle Floyd Show.  While waiting for our cook Ann to prepare some Italian food for dinner, some brothers might have been doing some "baking" on their own.  It's weird that four people who inhabited this house in the 1970s and 80s ended up in the microwave engineering industry, even though Stevens Institute offered no microwave courses.

The 1970s was the beginning of the age of cable television, but there was a wealth of free broadcast TV available in the greater New York Area. New Jersey is divided into two TV markets hosted by other states (New York and  Philadelphia), which added a bit of an inferiority complex to the general malaise of the 1970s. In that decade, the United States lost the Vietnam war, had a President resign in disgrace, and we watched the Space Station go down in flames while knowing that Iran was holding US citizens hostage. All we had to show for this was that the drinking age was temporarily reduced to 18 years old. I am not sure that was a positive thing, but at least we didn't all walk around carrying AR-15s.

In the New York metropolitan area there were the three main network stations (CBS, channel 2, NBC, channel 4 and ABC, channel 7). There was also a mess of independent TV transmitters in New York and New Jersey, including WNEW channel 5,  WOR channel 9, and WPIX channel 11. These stations offered re-run TV shows and some movies. Topping off the VHF band was PBS, channel 13. Up on the UHF dial there were a few Spanish stations (WNJU, channel 47), then way up where only dogs can hear was WBTB starting in 1974, channel 68, the very first "specialty broadcast station" defined by the FCC. In 1977, WBTB was purchased by Wometco and renamed WTVG. The video frequency of analog channel 68 is 795.25 MHz, WTVG out of Newark. Here is the WTVG station sign-on from 1979.  Over one million watts of EIRP, aimed right back at New York City! 

WTVG also featured a scrambled broadcast. You could rent a box for $15 and watch maybe one movie a day, or an ocasional Islanders hockey game vie a service called Wometco.  The scrambling technology was pretty crude, it did not affect the audio but removed the horizontal sych signal from the video. If the image happened to have a vertical line in it, often the video would synch up for a few seconds. If you were working in electrical engineering in the days of Wometco, chances are someone at your company had a schematic of a descrambler and maybe artwork for the printed ciruit board that you could build as a "government job".  The technology did not last long, as cable TV moved into the mainstream TV-watching experience. For maybe $30 bucks a month you could watch HBO and a bunch of other channels on the cable, if you could fight the box from some other fraternity brother's hands. Cable subscriptions went from 7.5% in 1978 to 52.8% in 1988.


WTVG's broadcast antenna was in Newark. Because of the World Trade towers, and perhaps the Empire State building, no matter how we adjusted the "rabbit ears" in Hoboken we always got an annoying shadow from multi-path. Let's try to calculate the problem (feel free to tell me where my assumptions are wrong). Analog TV had 550 lines scanned 30 times /second, so each line was scanned in 61 microseconds.  If multipath added three miles, it was delayed 16 micro-seconds. so a second shadow signal came in about a qurarter frame behind the primary signal. Problems like this all went away when digital TV started up.

The WTC had a generous amount of TV transmitters on the roof, read about that here.  It took quite a bit of effort to get the TV broadcasting back after the dark days of 9/11, but that could be a story for another day.

Uncle Floyd

Back to the subject at hand.  Floyd Vivino was a graduate of Little Rock HIgh School in New Jersey, and immediately went into the entertainment business, starting with radio. He must have spent a lot of time on piano lessons and learning songs, that was a big part of his jam, as you shall see.  Floyd Vivino holds the Guiness Book of World Records title of longest non-stop piano playing, 700 songs in 24 hours.

To hold a license, WTVG had to offer a children's program. That was the opening for the Uncle Floyd Show, which started in 1974 when Floyd Vivino was 23 years old. The Uncle Floyd show is not really children's programming, unless you include stoner kids. You could argue that his show borrowed heavily from Soupy Sales, but it predated Saturday Night Live and the Peewee Herman Show, which could be accused of borrowing from Uncle Floyd. In engineering and entertainment, there is usualy nothing new, just updated versions of pre-existing things.

Let's look at a few clips from Uncle Floyd back in the day... 

Deep in the Heart of Jersey

A staple of the show and usually sung by alter-ego "Cowboy Bob", this is a parody of the song, "Deep in the Heart of Texas". Below, Uncle Floyd is playing it a a concert venue in 1982.


Oogie was Uncle Floyd's ventriloquist puppet.  I didn't know this at the time, but it was a puppet named "Walter Ego" that anyone could buy from a company called Pelham. Below you will learn of Oogie's family tree.

Ricard Romantico

This personality was pretty rare, but allowed Floyd to savor a cigar while on the air.

More piano and signing

Floyd has memorized more songs from the 1920s and 1930s than anyone alive, I'd bet. Here is just a taste, on the untuned studio piano, featuring "Hugo", who is just some weird doll that dances and tried to sing but the microphone is not working.

Oogie's license plates

Here Oogie reveals he is dyslexic, as he suggests pesonalized license plates for the other cast members. Regulars on the show included Scott Gordon, "Looney" Skip Rooney, Mugsy, Netto and Artie Delmar.  Each contributed to the mayhem in their own way.  I doubt they got paid much!

Bones Boy, Skip Rooney and more piano

Bones Boy was a stand-up commedian measuring maybe six inches tall, known for the catch phase "snap it, pal!" The reference to Artie Delmar being  "Queen of Comedy" has to do with him in drag.  Clearly such a show was a cultural affront to humanity and would be banned in Florida today.  As if I did not have enough reasons to avoid that state... Skip Rooney tried hard with some home-made jokes and props, which Uncle Floyd tolerated. In every episode, a nice dose of Floyd on the piano!

Julia Stepchild

Julia Child was a well known TV chef in the 1970s.  Uncle Floyd created his own version of her. What is it with men in dresses? Do they think that is somehow funny? Yeah, they do.

Liberal versus Conservative

This skit is way ahead of its time. The liberal is played by Scott Gordon.

Mr Brown Pants

The Captain Kangaroo show (true kiddie show) had Mr. Green Jeans. Uncle Floyd occasionally had Mr. Brown Pants, played by Scott Gordon.  In this episode he introduces us to a snake, and throws in a naughty NSFW joke. Then someone in a chicken costume shows up, and Artie shows up in a dress and dances.

David Bowie tribute

John Lennon was apparently a fan of the Uncle Floyd show, and spread the word to David Bowie and Iggy Pop, around the time that Bowie was in New York playing in Elephant Man.  Bowie first met Floyd in person, at the Bottom Line where Floyd was playing, but Floyd didn't know who he was and tried to have him kicked out of the dressing room.

Later, Bowie wrote the song "Slip Away".  The version below has the lyrics for your enjoyment.

Here is a radio show where Uncle Floyd discusses his friend David Bowie right after Bowie passed away.

Uncle Floyd shirt

The best dressed people in the 1970s and 80s had to have this fashion accessory. Johnny Ramone used to wear one in concert... The Uncle Floyd Shirt!  You can buy one today, but it is kind of pricey.  To be authernic, buy the white one. Below, in the Ramones full-length movie Rock and Roll High School, you will see Johnny wearing the shirt under his leather jacket.

The Uncle Floyd show often featured musical acts.  The Ramones played several times, other celebrity guests included Cindy Lauper, Peter Tork, and Linda Blair. 

Floyd Vivino still plays gigs around New Jersey, but had a triple health scare in 2022: COVID19 and two types of cancer. In his own words, he plans on living until he's 86.  In case you live in a cave, to "86" something is to make it no longer available. If you want to learn more history of Uncle Floyd, here is a website I recommend. I'll try for "86" myself!

"I don't avoid I watch Uncle Floyd" was a bumper sticker you could buy from the Fan Club. I wish I had one for my car today!

Check out the Unknown Editor's amazing archives when you are looking for a way to screw off for a couple of hours or more!

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