Mr. Specter's TV Background

Mr. Specter started with video and film at a young age. By the time he was in high school he was a volunteer at WQED working as a student producer on a TV show called “The Place.” The show was eventually distributed state-wide. He wrote several segments and learned many of the technical details that went into producing a television program. He also gave some highly forgettable performances as on-air talent.

Not quite this young, but young.

On location with WQED at the Allegheny County Fair in 1969

 

Mr. Specter met and worked with many personalities who were institutions in the Pittsburgh Area. They included Dennis Benson, Fred Rogers, Don Riggs, Brocket and Barbara, Ricky Wertz among others.

The Miami-Dade TV Studio in 1970 - Can you spot Mr. Specter? Hint: He did NOT wear glasses at the time.

After high school Mr. Specter went to Florida for a year. There he worked as a student engineer and helped build a $ 2-million state-of-the-art color television production complex. There he also saw first hand what was then the leading-edge use of television in the classroom. In most freshman classes 30% of class time was spent watching some sort of electronic media.

The Duquesne University TV Studio in 1973 - Mr. Specter is easier to find here.

Upon returning to Pittsburgh Mr. Specter enrolled at Duquesne University. It wasn’t long before he stumbled into the University TV Studio. He quickly took an active role in completing the facility and promoting the use of video as a teaching tool. He also helped bring in grant money to purchase new equipment.

Eventually he was asked to serve as an instructor, teaching classes on both the graduate and undergraduate levels while running the studio. Along with a group of student volunteers Mr. Specter produced programming for the schools of nursing, business, psychology and education.  

After earning his bachelor’s degree in education Mr. Specter was hired by Ketchum Advertising in Pittsburgh. Ketchum was the largest advertising, marketing and public relations firm in Pennsylvania at the time. While there he built their studio and several conference rooms in the Pittsburgh office. He produced electronic media for most of their clients including PPG Industries, C&P Telephone (now part of Verizon), Pittsburgh Brewing, Westinghouse, International Harvester, PNC Bank, Pittsburgh Paints, Eat 'N Park, Stouffer’s Frozen Foods, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Rubbermaid, Alcoa, H J Heinz, Digital Equipment Corporation, Gulf Oil, National Geographic and many other companies and organizations. He was also an important member of Ketchum's new business development team.

He built and/or was involved in the design of studios and conference rooms in Ketchum offices in New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The long list of projects Mr. Specter did during his sixteen-year tenure at Ketchum is far too long to list here. He was involved with nearly every client and every aspect of the business at some point during his employment.

While at Ketchum he worked with many more advertising, public relations and media icons. These included Ray Werner, Anne McFadden, John Dymun, Cathy Bowen, Fred Rogers, Dan Kamin, Lynn Swann, Tom Megalis, Jon Kasunic, Tom Smith, Bill Genge, Jerry Voros, Paul Alverez, David Veres, Marc Jampole, Harry Webber, Ricki Wertz, Joe & John Pytka, Bill Mackel, Greg Obrzut, Tom Atkins, James Calderone, Craig Otto, Lynn Epstein, O'Brian and Gary, James Hart, Bob Trow, Scott Paulson, Larry Oswald and many more.

Mr. Specter shot film; video; did audio recording, video, audio and film editing; multimedia; staging; shot still photos and slides; did both film and video animation. He was a pioneer in making video look more like film. Unlike most video people Mr. Specter treated his video camera much like a professional film camera, dressing the lens with filters and mat boxes as well as using film-style lighting. He also was among the first to do commercials using stop-frame animation directly onto videotape. Ketchum created a separate profit center called "21 Productions" to market Mr. Specter's services.

The Ketchum Control Room in 1976    

 

When he left Ketchum he started his own video production business, Specter Video. He did mainly TV commercials and industrial films. There he also served as president and creative director, writing much of what his company produced including commercials, industrial videos, sales and training films. He expanded his capabilities to include computer animation, using one of the first 3-D animation programs.

Specter Video's clients included retailers, government agencies, service companies, banks, cultural organizations, financial service companies, charities, car dealers, advertising agencies, broadcast and cable companies, food processors and religious organizations. You can see some of his work by clicking here.

His personal circumstances changed and Mr. Specter then joined PharMor productions in Youngstown Ohio as a writer/producer. He got the job by winning a writing competition among the job candidates. There he wrote and produced corporate communications for the drug chain as well as work for outside clients. His responsibilities included print and training materials as well as broadcast. Just as PharMor was closing down he returned to Pittsburgh.

 

He was asked to interview for a job teaching TV Production at Woodland Hills. Woodland Hills hired Mr. Specter to work in their data center where he helped to build the computer network, wrote software applications, worked the help desk, trained staff and repaired computers.

The Woodland Hills TV Studio Control Room and Remote Cameras

When the time came to build a new TV studio Mr. Specter was asked to design it and specify the equipment. You can read about that studio here. In addition Mr. Specter worked on several videos for the district during his tenure.

Mr. Specter still has the equipment from his video production business and keeps up to date on the latest innovations. Electronic media remains his first love, but his teaching schedule limits his availability for video projects.

 

 

 

 

 

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