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)