COMO YOU KNOW: Pepper & Friends

Sunday, February 19, 2012 | 2:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:33 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 9, 2014

CoMo You Know, a community wiki, adds context to stories of local interest and serves as a reference tool for readers.


"Pepper & Friends" was a daily variety show on KOMU/Channel 8 that often featured representatives from community groups, civic organizations and social clubs in Columbia and the surrounding area. Paul Pepper and James Mouser hosted the show for 27 years before it was canceled on Sept.18, 2009. 

A condensed version of the show is now broadcast on KBIA/91.3 FM under the name "Radio Friends With Paul Pepper."


KOMU/Channel 8 daytime variety/talk show 
Started: 1982
Canceled: 2009
Host: Paul Pepper
Co-host: James Mouser


Full text

KOMU/Channel 8 is an NBC affiliate and commercial news station owned by MU and operated in large part by faculty members and students from the School of Journalism. 
"Pepper & Friends" was intended to give community residents the opportunity to appear on-air and promote and/or inform audiences about various topics of local interest. The show often featured charities, small businesses and community groups. "Pepper & Friends" aired more than 6,000 shows over the course of 27 years.
The show's host, Paul Pepper, born Paul Urzi, grew up near St. Louis and dreamed of hosting his own talk show since he was child. He worked at a radio station after graduating from high school but still wanted a job on television. In 1969, he began doing commercials for KOMU and later became the weather announcer. In 1982, his dream of having his own talk show came to fruition when he was asked to host the new program "Pepper & Friends."

The first show was taped on Feb. 3, 1982. Since that day, the show evolved from a weekly evening program to a daily morning show. At first, the shows were taped Tuesday evenings before a live audience and then broadcast at 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays. James Mouser became co-host in 1985, and the show moved to daytime television, finally becoming an hour show in 1989. "Kids Korner," hosted by Mouser, was added in 1993. 

A partial archive of video clips from old shows is available on KOMU's website, including videos of "Kids Korner," "Pet Corner," interviews, cooking demonstrations and performances.

In May 2009, KOMU General Manager Marty Siddall announced the decision to cancel "Pepper & Friends" because of financial losses. The show's operating budget indicated a $74,211.50 loss in 2009. 

The announcement to cancel the show was met with protest from many members of the community. On Aug. 31, approximately 40 protesters marched to MU's Jesse Hall to urge Chancellor Brady Deaton and Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services Jacquelyn Jones to keep the program. 

Pepper and Mouser also protested the cancellation and offered to take significant salary cuts in order keep the show running. Siddall maintained that the long-term economic losses incurred by the program could not be solved with a short-term solution. However, he agreed to let the show to run until September to allow for a more appropriate send-off for the long-standing program.

The show was last broadcast Sept. 18, 2009. "Access Hollywood" and "The Insider" now fill its time slot. 
KBIA/91.3 FM, in addition to broadcasting

"Radio Friends With Paul Pepper," offers videotaped clips of the show on its website.

Pepper signed a six-month contract with the MU-owned radio station in July 2009. The 10-minute radio show debuted Oct. 5, 2009. It is broadcast weekdays at 8:50 a.m. and features many of the same topics as the former TV show.
Updated: Feb. 19, 2012

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