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Jeff Houghton speaks at Hilton Garden Inn for SBJ's 12 People series.
Jeff Houghton speaks at Hilton Garden Inn for SBJ's 12 People series.

‘Mystery Hour’ host aims for national syndication

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For “The Mystery Hour” host Jeff Houghton, the Queen City may be the hub of his late-night television show, but his goal is to build outward from there.

Houghton aims to make Springfield his home base for nationally syndicated programming.

Speaking live this morning from Hilton Garden Inn for Springfield Business Journal’s 12 People You Need to Know editorial series, Houghton said the show is working with area businesses and volunteers to build a passion project into a known commodity.

Using sponsorships and ticket sales to cover costs of its $2,000 expense for each taping - there are eight a year that produce three shows each - Houghton said “The Mystery Hour” has become self-sustaining as it attracts an audience of as much as 700 to live recordings at the Gillioz Theatre. The show airs Saturdays on Fox KRBK.

“It’s stair steps,” he said. “I feel like we’ll make money eventually.”

The show recently was syndicated to Fox 14 in the Joplin market, giving it a four-state viewership.

Now, Houghton and crew seek $3,000 to fund the fifth season through crowdfunding website Indiegogo.com. As of 10:22 a.m., the campaign had raised $1,130, or 38 percent of its goal.

Through the campaign, “The Mystery Hour” hopes to fund production costs, including payments to its production companies, Hite Media and Goodwin Films. Houghton also continues to target a national audience by bringing in special guests and, eventually, getting stars on board to promote their newest works in a Midwest environment.

The show has drawn actors such as Jay Jackson, who played newscaster Perd Hapley on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” as well as local celebrity Grant Wistrom, who played in the NFL. His next taping at the Gillioz is Dec. 4, and in March, the show will feature Steve Hytner, who played Kenny Bania on “Seinfeld.”

With a Mid-America Regional Emmy Award under its belt, Houghton takes pride in the fact the show’s Springfield roots.

“We want be the cool band that you knew about before anybody else,” he said, noting he wants to get rid of the “just” Springfield stigma. “Screw that man, you can do anything!”

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