"Calling all stations, clear the air lanes, clear all air lanes for the big broadcast."

When you heard that at the stroke of 11 pm on Chicago's WCIU, you knew the night was just beginning.

Svengoolie is now in its 52nd year on television, and despite that fact, I still feel like he's underrated. In Chicago, however, he's debatably bigger than Mystery Science Theater 3000, or even Elvira.

Photo Credit: Warner's Svengoolie Dungeon via YouTube via U-City Productions & MeTV
Photo Credit: Warner's Svengoolie Dungeon via YouTube via U-City Productions & MeTV

For those unaware, Svengoolie is a late-night program. It now airs nationally at 7 pm CST on Saturday nights. Hosted by Rich Koz (playing "Svengoolie," a caricature in skull-like makeup donning a moustache, goatee, wig, and black top-hat), the program features a low-budget horror film. While the movie is played in its entirety, sound effects are incorporated into the film to provide a "riffing" sort of experience. Svengoolie pops up before and after commercial breaks to crack deliberately corny jokes, contextualize scenes, or perform parody songs.

Everything from Bela Lugosi's Dracula (1931) to Killer Klowns from Outer Space to the 3D version of Revenge of the Creature (the sequel to Creature from the Black Lagoon) has been shown at one time or another.

It would be rather irrelevant to write about Svengoolie if he was still confined to the airwaves of Chicago. Thankfully, the network on which the program airs, MeTV (short for "Memorable Entertainment Television"), has expanded from being a regional broadcaster to a nationwide one. You can watch Svengoolie very easily from anywhere in the country!

KWWL has a MeTV affiliate for those in the Dubuque-Cedar-Rapids-Waterloo market (channel 7.3). For those, such as myself, who have difficultly picking up over-the-air channels for one reason or another, there's another way you can watch the program!

If you have a Roku streaming player, you can download "Free2View." It's a free app that not only allows you to stream MeTV (WJLP, the New Jersey affiliate), but dozens of other over-the-air cable channels, including all MeTV affiliates. Upon moving from Illinois to Iowa, I discovered it and downloaded it. It streams like a charm. I've yet to experience even the slightest instance of buffering!

If you're a horror movie fan, you must check out Svengoolie, as far as I'm concerned. It's an artful mix of comedy and horror with a brilliant entertainer behind one of the best TV characters of all-time.

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