Soundstage (TV series)


Soundstage Logo
Country of origin United States
Running time 60 minutes
Original network PBS
Original release 1974–1985
2003 – 2010

Soundstage was an American live concert television series produced by WTTW Chicago and HD Ready. The original series aired for 13 seasons between 1974 and 1985; a new series of seasons began in 2003, with the latest (Season 8) starting in January 2010, each presented in high definition with surround sound. Some performances have been made available on DVD. The performances are taped on stage at the WTTW television studio in Chicago, as well as large venues throughout the United States.

HD Ready, LLC is a full-scale production company specializing in producing live concert performances for the acclaimed television show, as well as for DVDs and Blu-rays. Music industry veteran and HD Ready founder Joe Thomas has produced and directed over 100 episodes for Soundstage. Airing nationally on PBS, MTV Live, CMT, Rave HD, and GAC, as well as internationally in over 20 countries, the program features intimate performances by today's legendary, as well up-and-coming hit artists.

Initial series

The series originated in 1972 as Made in Chicago, also taped at and broadcast by WTTW. It presented a dramatic contrast to the way music had been televised until that point; variety shows (such as The Ed Sullivan Show) and lip-synched cabaret shows (such as The Andy Williams Show) were the norm. Made in Chicago (originated by Ken Ehrlich, who had previously produced The Marty Faye Show) foregrounded the music and emphasized live performance and, at times, improvisation.

In 1974, the show's name was changed to Soundstage, and it became more widely distributed by PBS.[1] Artists who appeared in the early years of the show included figures from rock (Bob Dylan, Tom Waits), pop (the Bee Gees), blues (Bonnie Raitt and Muddy Waters), jazz (Professor Longhair, Dizzy Gillespie, and Benny Goodman, as well as specials dedicated to the Down Beat Readers Poll Award winners) folk (Jim Croce, Janis Ian, Arlo Guthrie, and Harry Chapin), and gospel/soul/R&B (Al Green and Aretha Franklin). The 1980 appearance by John Prine is "the only archival concert of Prine available on DVD".[2] One of the most unusual episodes, broadcast in 1983, was devoted to Andy Kaufman, who hosted it in a (somewhat bizarre) variety show format; it was his last major television appearance.

Sponsors for the series include:


Original series

Season 1: 1974

Season 2: 1975

Season 3: 1976

Season 4: 1977

Season 5: 1978

Season 6: 1979

Season 7: 1980

Season 8: 1981

Season 9: 1982

Season 10: 1983

New series

Season 1: 2003

Season 2: 2004

Season 3: 2005

Season 4: 2006–2007

Season 5: 2007

Season 6: 2008

Season 7: 2009

Season 8: 2010


  1. personal interview with Ken Ehrlich, January 2008
  2. Robert Hilburn, Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2007.
  4. Soundstage Presents: Chicago DVD, Shop PBS
  5. Press Release, Sep. 10, 2005
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