Convergence comes to your living room

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v1.2 - April 25, 2009
v1.1 - April 16, 2009
v1.0 - April 08, 2009

Where Are They Now?

By amazing coincidence, you can find most of the former hosts and guests of on Facebook so check `em out and see how well (or badly) they've aged.

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A Brief History Of

In the summer of 1994, Ottawa screenwriter and standup comedian Rick Kaulbars came up with the idea of a call-in television show about the rapidly growing Internet and the locally popular BBS scene. A BBS user himself, Rick recognized that the growing availability of communications and computing technology to the general public would revolutionize the way in which people interacted, worked, and played. He was not the first to understand that the birth of the "information highway" (as it was popularly dubbed in those days) was going to be a major social development. But he did realize this would lead to an increasing demand amongst new and experienced users for information and news about this evolving phenomenon.

Rick wanted to focus on local issues and communities and so he approached Rogers Community 22, the Ottawa community access channel, and pitched the idea of a call-in show where people could telephone the studio and ask the hosts various questions about news and developments affecting the Internet and BBS'. As he outlined in his presentation, would be "...a different type of program dealing with professionals and hobbyists who have been on-line for over a decade." It would not be a computer show except for how computers related to being on-line. While technology would be central to the theme of the show, he wanted it to be a program that stressed content and issues over machinery and electronics.

Receiving tentative approval from Rogers Community 22, Rick then set about recruiting a co-host and he drew on his participation in Livewire BBS to find a suitable flunky... er, sidekick. Having befriended Patrick Calnan online, Rick invited him to participate in the show and Patrick quickly agreed. A crew of volunteers and sponsors quickly followed with the first episode finally making its way onto the airwaves on September 26th, 1994. Amongst the panelists on that inaugural program was Mark Bell of MONITOR Magazine and as Rick put it: "Once he got into the studio... he never left!" Mark's technical savvy and community connections were an invaluable addition to the program as he quickly evolved from welcome guest to regular co-host.

Over the next two seasons, became a valuable resource for local Internet and BBS users as well as a popular forum in which numerous issues such as censorship, government services, gender representation, legal issues, media coverage, and many others were hotly debated. Callers waited patiently (and sometimes impatiently) to speak with both the hosts and their guests while an innovative use of a BBS chat screen allowed online users to post their opinions and interact with the panel. This isn't to claim that the experience was always a smooth and easy one but for the most part, filled an important niche in how Ottawa and the surrounding area was adapting to new technological developments.

Difficulties did pop up from time to time and Rick frequently found himself at odds with Rogers Community 22 management over issues such as the format of the show (they thought three hosts was too many) as well as the content of satirical comedic segments. Things finally came to a head on the April 15th, 1996 edition of the program when local comic and actor Scott Florence performed a skit in which he portrayed himself as a racist Nazi skinhead. During the segment, Scott brandished a prop gun and pretended that he was suicidal. Despite Rick's having made the disclaimer that the skit was satire both going into and coming out of the segment, Rogers Community 22 management were upset and promptly fired the show's producer, Ray Hagel. This move angered all of the volunteers involved with the program as Ray had been a popular and integral part of from the first episode.

The end of the 1995-1996 season marked the end of and while it informed many and amused some, it was definitely a unique and cutting-edge program in its day. Almost fifteen years later, the technology has definitely moved on but a lot of the issues that were discussed continue to be relevant and topical.

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© 1994-2009 Rick Kaulbars | Original web site design by Andreas Viklund