"Miscast Mogul. (Joe Franklin of Joe Franklin Productions)"

By Martin Kihn
29 April 1991
Forbes

Miscast Mogul

JOE FRANKLIN, whose Joe Franklin Show airs in the wee hours in 170 television markets from coast to coast, aims to be a mogul. He has a mighty long way to go.

Franklin's pink-sheet-traded firm, Joe Franklin Productions, Inc., plays off the nostalgia theme of his talk show, which has been on the air since 1951. The firm's assets: 50,000 nostalgia items, including Rudy Valle's megaphone and W.C. Fields' top hat, as well as a library of over 10,000 silent films (from Peck's Bad Boy to Captain Swagger), which Franklin hopes to sell on home video. He also has hopes for a 24-hour radio network, TV production deals and even cruises and exercise videos, all with a nostalgia theme.

Who will buy a "Nostalgiacize" video showing Franklin wiggling to oldies like 100 Lbs. Of Clay? "There's a lost audience out there that doesn't care about heavy metal," says Franklin, 62. "A lot of people get a lot of solace from what I do.

But his investors are not among them. Joe Franklin Productions went public in 1987 at 65 cents a share for a unit of one share and 20 warrants. Recent price: 5 cents, which values the company at $981,000 (Franklin owns just over 3%).

So Franklin is trying a new concept: Fax Exchange, a sort of electronic Federal Express. So far the service has cost an estimated $400,000 to establish, but it has not handled a single document.

As Franklin himself might say of his company: The material's okay, but the delivery could use a little work.

ILLUSTRATION: portrait CAPTION: Frederick Rockwood (portrait)