Evans, Harry 1956(?)–
Harry Evans 1956(?)–
Television show host
When Harry Evans III goes dumpster diving for thrown-away video tapes, he has only the success of his cable-access television show on his mind. Evans is the creator and host of That Show With Those Black Guys, a one half-hour talk show that features only successful, educated African American men. That Show is the only national talk show created, produced, hosted, and syndicated by an African American man. Seen by an estimated one million viewers across the country, Evans has committed himself and his show to overturning the media’s negative stereotypes of African American men. “Though part of our community is made up of rappers and so-called gangsters, basketball players and such,” he told the Washington Afro-American, “White media has no stake in portraying us as the hard-working and committed race of people that we are.”
Raised in Compton, California, near Los Angeles, Evans moved to Baltimore in 1978. In addition to hosting his television show, he works as a patient advocate for the Maryland Department of Mental Hygiene. Evans was deeply disappointed with the negative stereotypes of African American men that he saw on television. After winning a 200 grant from Howard County, Maryland, Evans launched That Show. Prior to launching his television show, his only other television experience was as a losing contestant on the 1970s game show, The Dating Game.
On each show, Evans, dressed in a suit and tie, interviews guests that have included congressmen Jesse Jackson Jr. and J.C. Watts, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, musicians Stanley Turrentine and Antonio Hart, and Everett Hall, the fashion designer who dresses NBA stars such as Charles Barkley and Grant Hill. He doesn’t interview troubled athletes or “gangsta rappas,” only aspiring, achieving men whose stories aren’t told enough. Evans started the show, he told the Washington Post, “because of my total disdain for the image of African-American men in the media. The brothers get a bad knock.”
Evans runs a low-budget operation. He shoots the show on his own patio, with a skeleton crew. He uses the cable company’s camera, and records the shows on donated video tapes. Evans used to get his video tapes from the Discovery Channel dumpster in nearby Bethesda, Maryland. Many television stations throw away a huge quantity of used video tapes, but the quality of the tapes was good enough for Evans. Late one night, an employee at a television station saw him hunting in the dumpster for tapes. After learning about the show, she became one of his main sources of used tapes. Evans estimates that he spends about 100 on each show. Most of that money is spent on postage, telephone bills, and tapes. “My show proves that the consuming public could care less whether we shoot ]the show] at a 10 million studio in Hollywood or on my patio,” he told Emerge.
At a Glance…
Born c, 1956. Raised in Compton, California; divorced.
Career: Patient advocate, Maryland Department of Mental Hygiene; host, That Show With Those Btack Guys, 1994-.
Awards: Nominated for the George Foster Peabody Award, 1997. Cameo Award for Outstanding Cable Programming Excellence, 1998, 1999.
Member: Alpha Phi Alpha.
Addresses: Office— Harry Evans III, P.O. Box 52, Simpsonville, MD21150.
Evans’s fraternity brothers in the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity—whose national headquarters are in Baltimore—have supported him since the first show. Reginald Hart Jr. is the show’s director, and Eric Canaday serves as production supervisor. Neither of these men receive a salary. Alpha Phi Alpha members across the United States have helped Evans secure syndication in many cities. “My brothers work the cameras, the sound, do the directing, and help with the editing,” Evans told the Washington A fro-American. “There would be no show without them.” Canaday is happy to donate his time and effort. “I do it because I believe in what Harry’s doing,” he told the Washington Post.
That Show With Those Black Guys first aired in October of 1994. After only three years, the show was seen in nearly 90 markets, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Atlanta. There is a lot of competition among cable-access television shows. Shows like Hello Austria, Gay USA, Islamic Perspectives, and Eagerness of God are the kinds of shows that Evans competes against. Also, most public cable-access shows are not syndicated, but stay within their home markets. Evans personally mails out almost 90 tapes every week to the stations that air his show.
Evans is not the first person to find success on public access television. For instance, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was once a cable-access political show host. Talk-show host, model, and recording artist RuPaul also started out on public access television in Atlanta. “There’s no reason for him not to have hope,” Nantz Rickard, executive director of Public Access Corp. told the Washington Post. “Everything starts somewhere, and people respond from their hearts. It’s not always the media who are guessing from the top.”
Evans does not feature women as guests on his show. He believes that women receive enough attention from female African American talk show hosts like Oprah and Rolanda, and that men don’t have an equal voice in television talk-show media. “Every time you turn on the television you see positive, strong black women,” Evans told UMOJA News. “But we men are taking a strong hit.”
“His show works,” said David Felty, projects coordinator and program director for the New Orleans Educational Telecommunications Consortium. “We immediately started getting feedback … about the show and the format. People want it.” Evans was nominated for a George Foster Peabody Award in 1997. He also won Cameo Awards for Outstanding Cable Programming Excellence, which are awarded by the cable television industry, in 1998 and 1999.
Although Curtis Symonds, the president of Black Entertainment Television, has been a guest on That Show, BET hasn’t shown interest in featuring the show in its lineup. Evans would like to be a positive influence on the African American cable network, and criticized some of BET’s programming. “BET is so far off from the mark,” he told the Washington Post, “Some of the images they put on are awful. Look at the images we present to our kids.” When people ask Evans why he is not on Black Entertainment Television, his standard response is “Ask BET.” When Evans met Symonds at an industry convention, Symonds told him that the show would be a hard sell to the network’s advertising clients. BET’s lack of interest has not diminished Evans’s hopes for That Show With Those Black Guys. His dream scenario, he told the Washington Post, is that, “The phone shall ring. It’ll be King World. United Paramount, Oprah … saying, ‘Come dance with us.’”
BET Weekend, July\August 1998, p.29.
Chicago Tribune, January 14, 1997.
City Paper (Baltimore), September 17, 1997.
Louisiana Weekly, April 11, 1999, p. 13.
UMOJA News (Bridgeport, Maryland), November 1998.
Washington A fro-American, May 27, 1995.
Washington Post, December 2, 1997, p. B1.
Additional information was provided by Harry Evans III, 2000; and That Black Guy Show, MSBET: Emerge Magazine online, http://www.msbet.com (January 4, 2000).
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