Tribune brings Johnny Carson back to the airwaves


Michelle Clancy

| 13 August 2015

Tribune Broadcasting has a multi-year agreement with Carson Entertainment Group to broadcast episodes of the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson on Antenna TV.

Antenna TV is a multicast channel that airs in 102 markets across the United States, reaching 78% of all television households. Starting in January, it will air a 60-minute classic Carson episode every night.

Carson's iteration of the Tonight Show went off the air in 1992.

"During his Nebraskan boyhood, Johnny Carson dreamed of becoming a world-famous magician, and few would disagree that his three decade dominance of late-night television was anything short of magical," said Sean Compton, president of strategic programming and acquisitions at Tribune Media. "Along the way he pioneered the conversational presentation and generative comedic content that continues to inspire talent and entertainment programming to this very day. 30 years later, Carson's comedy and humour are just as relevant. We are thrilled to have acquired these programmes to entertain existing fans and attract future followers."

23 years after retiring from The Tonight Show - and a decade after his death - Johnny Carson remains TV's most popular late-night talk show host, according to a 2015 Quinnipiac University Poll, 2015. In his three decades as host, he interviewed some 25,000 guests including celebrities like David Letterman, Jay Leno and Jim Carrey, and comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres and Drew Carey, all of whom got their start on Carson's stage.

Antenna TV will show popular full-length episodes from the 70s, 80s and 90s, which have not aired on television since, including Jackie Gleason's only appearance on the show, a joint appearance by Don Rickles and Frank Sinatra, Myrtle the Potato Chip Lady and Barney Odum and his tree-climbing dog.

"Johnny Carson was America's night light for 30 years," said Jeff Sotzing, president of Carson Entertainment. "The mantra of 'we'll watch the monologue and go to bed' was the norm for millions of fans. The idea of running the show at the same time every night on Antenna TV will provide viewers with a feel for how the show was viewed originally. This is a fantastic opportunity for people to relive this wonderful piece of American history."