Searching for (and accessing) clips from old talk shows & news programs
February 17, 2021 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Is there some way to search for segments that have aired on television talk shows or news programs? For example, if I wanted to view every clip that featured a given celebrity as a guest on a talk show (or a nightly news segment that was a story about that celebrity), how would I go about doing that?

I recently watched the documentary Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (2019). The movie featured some clips of Linda appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and maybe some other talk shows as well. How did the filmmakers find those clips? Is there an index or database somewhere that is searchable by the name of each guest? And is there a similar way to search for segments that appeared on nightly news shows? Also, assuming that I am somehow able to find a reference to a given show, how would I go about viewing the actual clip, if it's not already on YouTube or some other such public platform?

(Note that I'm not specifically interested in Linda Ronstadt – I was just using her as an example).
posted by akk2014 to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not an expert in this, but I would start by looking at a TV Guide database (check your local library) and/or a digitized newspaper with a tv listings section. Then if I identified some shows that I wanted to view that weren't available online, I would maybe make a trip to the Paley Center or ask the production company or network that originally produced/aired the show for a clip. Or I bet there are forums/listservs/bulletin boards/something for people with collections of old taped-off-TV VHSs.
posted by mskyle at 11:59 AM on February 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Imperfect, but has a dedicated page for searching TV captions (and playing matching clips). It's news-heavy but has a lot of interviews.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:27 PM on February 17, 2021

There are companies called media monitoring services, or clipping services. In essense they capture a lot of media, market for keywords (such as which people and what companies are mentioned within). Their clients are those people and companies who want to keep an archive of the times they were mentioned in the newspapers and other print media.

You can check old newspapers and TV listings for specific people appearing on shows. Their agents may keep records.

As for specific TV shows, the archives are maintained by either the network or the production company, so the filmmakers made a request to that company to license clips.

Actually, with Carson it's really easy since they set up a website for the purpose. (It only appears to cover the Tonight Show during the Carson era, not, say, Steve Allen before him, or Jay Leno after him.)
posted by Sunburnt at 12:32 PM on February 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As mentioned by mskyle, the Paley Center in NYC is where a lot of researchers and documentarians do this kind of work. You need to actually go there in person to view the stuff in their archive, but you can search their database online. Using the example in your question, here are the results for 'Ronstadt' from their database.
posted by theory at 9:57 PM on February 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I worked on this. Feel free to DM me for more info
posted by Ideefixe at 3:03 PM on April 19, 2021

Another place to look is the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. As far as I understand, it's not 100% complete for many reasons, but it has many thousands of videos. You might start with their Interview section and filter further from there.
posted by knile at 1:22 PM on October 25, 2021

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