GARY — Valparaiso's TV talk show host Michael Essany is ready for a return to the small screen and promises his latest broadcast venture will be bigger and better than his reality chat show series on cable's E! Entertainment in 2003.
The show will tape weeknights Monday through Thursday from a studio at the Genesis Convention Center in Gary.
The new one-hour show, called “Seven on Ridge,” was to begin airing at 10:30 p.m. Monday to a broadcast audience billed as 11 million homes on Chicago station WJYS.
Essany's first guest was Chicago's favorite weatherman from WGN-TV, Tom Skilling, who just turned 60 in February.
Audience members at the show's first taping Saturday night at the Genesis Center said it was great to see their hometown boy hitting what could be the big time.
“I'm a Johnny Carson nut,” said Janice Harris. “So when they said it's similar to Johnny Carson, I said, 'All right, I'm going.'”
Head writer Ian Ross Hughes said the program will be “Chicago's first late-night show.”
WJYS is an independent television station headquartered in Tinley Park, Ill., with antennae on top of the Willis Tower in downtown Chicago, serving 11 million viewers in the Chicago, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan markets.
WJYS can be found on Comcast, Dish Network and Direct TV systems. Also, episodes stream for free on the show's website, www.sevenonridge.com.
Essany said the name for his new show came as the idea of one of his team of producers, who years ago, worked on a local talk show with a studio address at 7 Ridge Road in Hobart.
For guests opting for the dinner option, there's an additional charge, since the dining includes a bottle of wine and contemporary regional cuisine, including an appetizer, salad, and main course (with choice of three entrées), plus dessert, served by Chicago's chef Steve Savoy. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m., and show taping begins at 8 p.m.
The www.sevenonridge.com website allows audiences to make reservations.
“There is a small $1, or so, reservation fee for the general open seating, just to assure that we don't have audience groups reserving blocks of 'free' tickets and then not attending as planned,” Essany said.