Ben Sumner Has Tulsa Staying Up Late Night
By MIRANDA ENZOR
Looking for something to do next weekend? Look no further than Fox 23 Saturday nights at 12:30 a.m. That’s when Ben Sumner lets Tulsa know what’s hot, happening and coming up in the next week on his show.
“Up Late with Ben Sumner” is Tulsa’s only local television talk show and features an assortment of entertainment events happening around town, or as Sumner puts it, “everything Tulsa wants to know or would want to know about.” The weekly show is never re-run and Sumner says he plans to keep it that way.
“We’re very devoted to making sure our viewers get new information every week. On Saturdays when we turn our show in, it’s still being updated.”
Recent features have included everything from Frankhoma, a pottery shop in Sapulpa where every piece of work is hand-made, to the Bixby Green Corn Festival to a spot where Sumner sold concessions at Drillers Stadium for an afternoon. Nothing is ruled out.
“We’re not limited to one age group,” Sumner says. “We’re open to everything and try to make the show interesting for everyone.”
The idea for “Up Late” was entirely Sumner’s. After graduating from Edison High School in 2003, Sumner moved to Los Angeles and took on jobs with the high school cable station ‘Channel One’ and the Sharon Osbourne Show. While working as a lighting assistant and cameraman, he got to see first-hand how a talk show was put together.
“Knowing I could come home and do what I was doing in LA, but do it myself, I figured why not?”
Upon returning from Los Angeles, Sumner enrolled at Tulsa Community College and began working as a promotional producer at Fox 23. In time, the show was born and has now been on the air for eight successful months.
“We have an amazing staff and I thank every one of them for their work,” Sumner says. “We started out rough, but it’s growing into something that Tulsa loves.”
In addition to hosting “Up Late,” Sumner researches the events that will be featured on each show and interviews his subjects on and off the set.
“I usually sit down with a cup of coffee at the beginning of the week and go through all the local publications looking for events I want to feature,” he says.
One of his favorite features, which he talks about excitedly, is local music.
“The music scene here is big and being able to be a part of it is incredible.”
Sumner also owns the production company that produces the show, pretty impressive for a guy who’s only 23 years old. But then, it’s probably what those who know him expect. He is driven, focused and passionate about what he does, and always has been. At age five, Sumner was already running around with a camera in-hand.
“My first camera was a used VHS camera that was dropped and duct-taped many a times,” he laughs. “I’ve always loved the media business. I’ve always loved being able to connect people, get them together and have a great time no matter what kind of show it is.”
His love for media and bringing people together became apparent in middle school when Sumner helped create a news program while attending school in Bixby. He also landed an internship at Channel 6 working with sports director Scott Higgins for eight years. As a junior in high school, he transferred to Edison for their larger production program before taking off for LA.
Now that he’s back in Tulsa and has a successful show, Sumner is looking forward to expanding the reach of “Up Late.”
“If you think the show is big now, wait until six months from now,” he smiles. “It’s going to get even bigger. It’s not always going to be at 12:30 at night. I want to tell my viewers thank you for staying really late with me. We’ll have a better time slot and a lot of growth in the next six months.”
Despite viewers having to say up late for Sumner, he hopes that he’s able to expose them to an aspect of Tulsa entertainment they might never have come across on their own.
“I hope my viewers can sit down and plan their next weekend without ever having to get out of their chair so they can get out and enjoy it. I hope they get to see talent they never would have seen otherwise. I hope viewers get an inside view of what’s going on in Tulsa if they’re not able to get out.”
And just in case you can’t stay up late with Sumner, the latest show is always available 24 hours a day at www.uplatetv.com.