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Stephen Colbert Interviews Eminem on Michigan Public Access - The New York Times

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ArtsBeat | Stephen Colbert Interviews Eminem on Michigan Public Access
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Stephen Colbert Interviews Eminem on Michigan Public Access

By Dave Itzkoff July 1, 2015 6:42 pm July 1, 2015 6:42 pm
Stephen Colbert and Eminem on “Only in Monroe,” a public access show in Michigan.

Stephen Colbert doesn’t have his own television show yet, but he continues to find unexpected (and increasingly esoteric) ways to remind people that he will soon be returning to the airwaves.

On Wednesday, Mr. Colbert, the incoming star of CBS’s “Late Show,” made an unheralded appearance on Mpact, a public-access television station in Monroe, Mich. In a 41-minute broadcast that was first shown on the station at midnight and soon made the rounds on YouTube, Mr. Colbert filled in as the host of “Only in Monroe,” a local interest program, where he shared questionable factoids about the city and spoke with its regular moderators, Michelle Bowman and Kaye Lani Rae Rafko Wilson (the winner of the 1988 Miss America pageant). He also interviewed another Michigan resident, Marshall Mathers, who is better known – though perhaps not to Mr. Colbert – as the rapper Eminem.

Lance Sottile, the program director of Mpact, spoke on Wednesday about Mr. Colbert’s surprise visit to “Only in Monroe.” In these excerpts from that conversation, Mr. Sottile talked about how this show – unusual, even by public-access standards – was put together.

Q. What kinds of programming are typically shown on your channel?
A. We’re a local public-access TV channel and radio station, and we promote Monroe. The community members can become volunteers of our facility and use it for the programs they come up with. We air on a cable channel, through the local cable companies, and also on YouTube as well. What you saw on “Only In Monroe,” that’s pretty much how the shows go. Talking about local events and interviewing people from the United Way, Red Cross. The college, for instance, does a show about education. We have a cat doctor, a veterinarian, that comes in and talks about cat health. It’s a wide variety of shows that we run.

Q. How did this particular show with Stephen Colbert come together?
A. Stephen Colbert wanted to host the show with Kaye Lani and Michelle, the “Only in Monroe” show, and they were happy to give up the hosting duties to him.

Q. I take it this is not a common occurrence.
A. Oh, no. It was pretty awesome.

Q. How long ago did they reach out to you about this? Did you think you were being pranked?
A. It took some time to figure it out and see what the plan was. And then we realized it was real, and we were, like, “Hey, definitely, man. We’re all about it.”

Q. When was this episode taped?
A. This was taped yesterday and it was aired last night, at midnight, for the first time and it’s been airing all day. Our policy states that a program that’s produced here at Mpact has to be aired on our channel before it can be distributed in other means. So they had to air it last night before we could share it with the world on YouTube.

Q. Were you able to do any advance publicity or promotion for this?
A. The biggest part of it was that it was supposed to be a surprise. And it was a surprise. It was a surprise for all of us. We didn’t know that the guest was going to be Eminem until the day of. It just sort of happened and we were like, “Oh – oh my gosh.”

Q. Did the Colbert people request any special accommodations or amenities while they were there?
A. We made it happen. That’s the best I can say. And it worked.

Q. Do they have ratings for public-access broadcasts? Is there any way to know how this did?
A. Not specifically. We’re not terribly concerned with that as a public-access facility. We’re not commercial, so we don’t worry about getting the advertisers.

Q. What could happen after this that will ever surpass this? Do you worry that you’ve peaked?
A. Do you mean me, personally?

Q. I mean for the station – is this as good as it could get?
A. You never know what the future may hold, apparently. We found that out.

A version of this article appears in print on 07/03/2015, on page C3 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Colbert Back on the Air In Monroe, Mich..

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