NUDE HIPPO premiered on Chicago cable TV on May 3, 1997 as The Big Fat NUDE HIPPO Show. From May of 1997 to January of 1998 the show was taped in front of a live audience in the basement of a Chicago Park District building. The format was originally a variety show featuring comedy sketches, musical performances, cooking segments.
In January of 1998 NUDE HIPPO moved to the Chicago Access Network studios and began live broadcasts in front of a studio audience, with me and the other four producers (Julie Esterline, Nick Rosario, Michelle Wenglarz & Ramona Roberts) doubling as the host team. The format evolved towards a talk/variety show, featuring interviews with local celebrities, wacky bits, fake news reports and taped pieces from around Chicago.
In June of 1998 NUDE HIPPO began cycling episodes to suburban cable outlets. For six months, Evanston’s ECMC-TV was the first to run encore episodes of the Chicago version of NUDE HIPPO. Later that year a deal was made to include Naperville’s NCTV, the second largest cable outlet in Illinois, until a commercial deal was made in Chicago, forcing the end of any suburban expansion.
Read more about how Nude Hippo got it’s start from Tony Lossano here.