The BU Scholars Crew (1959)

The notorious Boston University Scholars “Crew of ’59.”

Top left to right: Al Kelman, Phil Fields, Tom McGrath, Fred Barzyk, Don Knox, Bert Bell, Sue Dietrich, Dave Nohling, Jim Hennes, John Sunier, John Engel.

Bottom left to right: Lew Yeager, Joe (Mark) Mobius, Brooks Leffler, Mel Bernstein.

Not present: Hiromichi Matsui

Rat Alley Reminiscence (1959)

From Paul Noble

Now, here’s a really choice photo, from Brooks Leffler.

It’s the entrance to Fred Barzyk’s and Tom McGrath’s dreadful little hovel in "Rat Alley," 1959. It was literally in a back alley which ran from Massachusetts Avenue out behind the Zebra Lounge.

The hundreds of resident rats were the size of house cats.

Fred and Tom’s apartment was the scene of many questionable after-hours gatherings, including the party of the "infamous, exploding plaster-of-paris birthday cake."

This was also the launching place for the WGBH Halloween procession of cars which wound through the streets of Boston. Dave Nohling played Dracula, sitting erect and waving, periodically, from a coffin mounted atop the seats of Frank Vento’s red convertible.

Dave Davis’ “Creativity” Memo (1958)

Click on the images to see the original memo. Read the text, below.

Memorandum July 23, 1958

To: Tv producer-directors
From: David M. Davis
Subject: Creativity

I have a great concern that we are not all utilizing the creative imagination that we have to make our programs interesting, stimulating, and even exciting. It seems to me that many of us are in a rather deep rut on stock format types of programs, and that real attempt at creation is not taking place.

I think that the lifestyle series which will be assigned to each producer on a rotating basis during the coming season will be very helpful in this regard since each producer will have an opportunity to develop his own program in the direction in which he wishes to go. However, on our standard programs and general regular assignments I think we have much to be desired. Also, I don’t believe this is purely a matter of time, personnel, facilities, and money; I think it is a matter of the way you approach the problem. Think of your new assignments this way: You have a given program and a given time slot. Our decision on scheduling this program and putting it in the time slot is based on an audience need for the program, that it is worthwhile to put on the air, that it has the potential to attract and hold an audience, that we have (we hope) the right talent for the program, and that all in all it should be done. The thing that the producer must now do, taking the above elements into account, is to determine in his own mind exactly what the purpose of the program is. Think it through yourself and then talk that point over with Bob Larsen or myself. Talk it over with your colleagues, too: utilize their thoughts and ideas. Then make a basic decision: decide that this will not be just another television program, but that it will be a unique experience for the viewer and that this will be the best television program that you are capable of producing and directing under the conditions under which you will be working. To make the point very obvious, please stop automatically deciding that this program should be done with a man in front of a demonstration table with a blackboard. Utilize the creative talent that is available to you.

Decide that this will … be a unique experience for the viewer and that this will be the best television program that you are capable of producing and directing …

I feel that we are certainly not utilizing the talents available in matters of setting, staging, and art work. Peter Prodan is more than available to help on the creative aspects of set, design, and construction. We will also be using David Robertson, who is essentially employed as a lighting man, but is a qualified designer to help with this work. On art work, instead of deciding precisely what you want in terms of a camera card or slide or what-have-you, go to the art department and discuss with these visual experts the concept that you are going to try to present. We have highly talented people in these departments and they can contribute much to your total production if you make an effort to utilize their talents. Think carefully about the competitive aspects of the medium that we are in. We are presenting good programs, but we are not in many cases delivering those programs to the people who really want them because of the way in which we are presenting them. Even though we are programming for special audiences in all cases, we are still in a highly competitive medium, and we must successfully get the person who wants our kind of program to look at it. We must remember that one of our basic public responsibilities is to provide programs that will attract ever increasing numbers of those people who will benefit most from the programs that we offer.

I have mentioned certain creative people who are available to you in terms of art and design, but I also suggest to y ou that you have bull sessions with people like Moscone, Vento, Hallock, and Valtz on yor programs themselves. What ideas do these people who are also creative artists have about what you are doing or what you plan to do? Make every effort to stop is from being dull and pedestrian and to make us exciting.

On the content side, you have certain responsibilities unique to educational television. In almost all cases, you are working with an educator (or group) who is the content expert and talent for your show. However, this degree of expertness does not make this man an expert in the field of television. He must be guided, produced and directed in a way which will guarantee the presentation of his material, in this medium, in a successful way. Remember that you, as a producer, are responsible for all of the show, and that no amount of a great setting, lighting, staging, etc., will make a good show unless the content itself, and the delivery of the content, is good. Therefore, you must take charge much more than many of you have been doing. You must also give the talent sufficient and proper direction. This can not be done during camera rehearsal; you must schedule dry rehearsals for this purpose. If you make clear to the performer in the right way that pre-planning and rehearsals are for his benefit, to help him to look good and to be good, he will cooperate.

All of us involved … are interested in but one thing: delivering to the home receivers programs which are going to successfully achieve their aim.

All of us involved, station staff and performers, are interested in but one thing: delivering to the home receivers programs which are going to successfully achieve their aim. You, as the producer-director, are the key man in meeting this objective.

cc. all staff including B.U. crew

Dave Nohling Passes On

From Don Hallock — 11/29/2001

One of the nicest, funniest guys ever to cross the 84 Mass. Ave. threshold.

David L. Nohling, 65, a 21 year resident of St. Charles, passed away after a year long courageous battle with lymphoma, on Sunday, November 24th.

He was born December 28, 1936 in Kenosha WI.

Dave was a veteran of the United States Air Force, a member of the American Legion in Geneva and United States Coast Guard Auxiliary locally and in Cape Cod Mass.

He moved to Illinois with his family to work in Corporate video. With his Ph. D in Educational Communications he taught in college, university, church, community and elder hostel settings. His creative spirit and talent allowed him to direct, produce, and raise funds for many organizations.

For 14 years he worked for Public Television in Pittsburgh at WQED and was the Purple Panda on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.

His family will remember him most for his sense of humor, unconditional love and support. He enjoyed traveling with his wife and playing with his grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Fran; two children Lars (Jan) Nohling of Plato Center and Elisabeth (Jay) Marshall of Richmond, Il; seven grandchildren Nicholas, Sabrina, Nathan and Noah Nohling and Flynn, William and Reed Marshall; sister Carol Hawkinson of Bradenton, FL.

He was preceded in death by his parents LeRoy and Gladys Nohling. A Celebration of his life will take place Saturday December 14 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Charles. Visitation at 9 am, service at 10 am and interment at North Cemetery will follow.

Memorial donations may be directed to United Way of St. Charles, 440 S. Third St. P.O. Box 473 St. Charles Il 60174 or Bethlehem Lutheran Church 1145 N. Fifth Ave. St. Charles IL, 60174

You may contact the family at