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Cult TV Essentials: Midnight Caller

Jack “The Nighthawk” Killian (played by Gary Cole) brought his KJCM-FM radio show to our television sets on 25th October 1988 and remained with us for three seasons (61 episodes in total). Created by Richard DiLello, Midnight Caller followed Killian, a former San Francisco police detective who quit the force after he accidentally shot and killed his partner Rusty Collins (played by Frank Papia) in a confrontation with armed criminals. Following Rusty’s death Killian becomes an alcoholic and his life hits a downward spiral until he is contacted by Devon King (played by Wendy Kilbourne). King is a rich business woman who owns and operates KJCM-FM radio. She offers Jack the chance to become “The Nighthawk” – the host of an overnight talk show, taking calls from listeners and acting as a detective solving their problems during the day.

As the calls come in, Killian often finds himself using his police work skills and network of former colleagues to solve listeners problems. Meeting his former colleagues is not always a happy occasion though with many resenting jack for what has happened. This made Killian face a wide range of personal and professional issues that he needs to resolve in order to move on in all aspects of his life.

As the series develops Killian has a will they/wont they relationship with Devon but Devon eventually became pregnant in a relationship with another man (In real life Kilbourne had become pregnant herself) and sells the radio the station to Nicky Molloy (played by Lisa Eilbacher).

Midnight Caller was a well crafted show with many hard hitting stories including the controversial episode third episode “After It Happened” where Jack helps an ex-girlfriend Tina Cassidy (played by Kay Lenz) track down the man who impregnated her after a one-night stand, Mike Barnes (played by Richard Cox), which also left her infected with HIV. Further episodes included child abuse, domestic abuse, immigration, capital punishment, corruption, addiction and mental health.

If you keep your eyes peeled through the series you can spot Greg Proops, Jeff Mosley, Reni Santoni, Peter Boyle, Stan Shaw, Howard Duff, Terence Knox, Richard Bradford, Alan Rosenberg, Nicholas Guest, Sascha Radetsky, Jerry Hardin, Robert Beltran, Ed O’Neill, Jenny Wright, Peter Michael Goetz, Bud Cort, Meg Foster, Mary Jo Deschanel, Pam Grier, James Gammon, Dedee Pfeiffer, John Beck, Madge Sinclair, Cleavon Little, Gregory Sierra, Edward Albert, Roger Daltry, Leslie Jordan, Art Evans, Peter Jurasik, Yuji Okumoto, Levon Helm, Richard Herd, Cynthia Gibb, and Eddie Velez amongst others.

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Founded Cult Faction in 2014; previously crawled out of the Black Lodge in 1976, only to find himself in the Village.

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