Hometime was a home improvement television show that aired in the United States for almost three decades. The show’s owners described it as “one of the longest-running home improvement programs on television--airing for 29 years on PBS and 14 in commercial syndication.” They add, “With that kind of experience base, it's not hard to deliver on our core values of compelling content and practical advice for homeowners.” Hometime.com was the show’s official website.
Try to find Hometime.com today, and you will be met with the message: “This Web page is parked FREE, courtesy of GoDaddy.” What could have happened to the website and show that delivered content on a broad range of topics, including flooring, windows and doors, floor sanding, and painting to some 3.6 million viewers?
We took some time to find out what happened to Hometime.com. This article presents the history of the show, some of its hosts, and a sample of audience reviews.
The History of Hometime.com
Hometime started in 1984 when Dean Johnson established a company called Hometime Video Publishing. In the early years, Hometime made do-it-yourself videos that it distributed through home centers and hardware stores. Two years later, Johnson’s idea became the Hometime series, broadcasting on PBS.
Hometime.com was captured online for the first time in November 1996. At that time, the website was simple. From the homepage, visitors could click on links that took them to information about the company, shows currently on TV and past ones, the Hometime’s video store, how-to center, and user forum.
A Passion for Sharing Knowledge
What made a humble idea turn into a successful television series that lasted for three decades? Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez provides the answer in an article published by the Tampa Bay Times. According to McMorrow-Hernandez, “Johnson wasn’t just an actor playing an on-screen handyman all those years.” Rather, “he started as an independent contractor with a penchant for construction and a passion for sharing his knowledge with others.”
Tampa Bay Times quotes Johnson saying, “One of the key things about our program was showing people good construction and contractor practices.” He adds that “Contractors will respect your knowledge if you know how homes are built and how repairs are made.”
Johnson seemed to have all the skills to run a program like Hometime. He graduated with a degree in accounting from the University of Minnesota. Before starting Hometime Video Publishing, Johnson worked as a sales representative, a cost accountant, and an independent builder. Apart from being president of Hometime Video Publishing, he was also a co-host on the program.
The Team Behind the Show
The TV series’ success (lasting for almost 30 years) can also be credited to the rest of the team that helped Johnson put together the content. Several co-hosts worked with Johnson at different times. One of the presenters that co-hosted the show with Johnson was Miriam Johnson.
Miriam Johnson is not related to Dean Johnson. However, PBS.org reports that “in the early years, Hometime allowed viewers to believe that Dean was married to his co-host and that they lived in the homes they worked on.” It looks like someone let the cat out of the bag eventually.
For more than 12 years, Dan Laabs worked as the construction coordinator at Hometime. His job was to ensure that all projects were done well, within budget, and completed on schedule.
Tom Weckwerth was responsible for the quality of each episode. For 11 years, he ensured that everybody knew the location and date for the next show. His job also involved managing the lighting and wardrobe.
For almost three decades, Hometime was the place where many viewers wanted to be on Saturday. The value of the program is indicated in some of the reviews from viewers on various review sites. It looks like some viewers objected when the program seemed to care more about product placements than providing real value in the later years.
A reviewer going by the name Jeffy-6 writes, “Hometime is the best home improvement show I have ever seen. It is a lot more down-to-earth than many other shows, and the projects they do are more what the average homeowner might encounter.”
Another reviewer, Rebew_nad, agrees with Jeffy-6, “Hometime is a wonderful show because as they say... Real people, and real projects. No standing around to watch some contractor do it.”
However, some viewers thought that the show did not provide much value in its later years. They argue that it focused more on making money from endorsements. For instance, a reviewer going by the name Peakbagger says that “it was a good show early on but in later years it was high end with major product placement and not much education.”
Lake Girl agrees with Peakbagger, “I’ve noticed the same trend, product placement, with Mike Holmes (Toronto, ON area).” Adding, “The product placement cheapens the flow of the show and, in my mind, reduces his [Johnson’s] integrity.”
The End of an Era
On January 30, 2016, Dean Johnson and Miriam Johnson presented the last Hometime episode.
In a message posted on the Hometime Facebook page on February 2, 2016, Johnson tells the viewers that “now the time has come to pack up the cameras, put away the tools and ladders, and bring the Hometime show to a close.”
Johnson doesn't provide any reason as to why the show was ending. He prefers to leave the viewers with a somewhat vague statement: “As you may have heard on our show which aired last weekend, we are just wrapping up our 29th season of producing Hometime shows for public television. It's been an honor and a pleasure presenting the best and most interesting how-to information and do-it-yourself projects that we could find.”
Not much information is available regarding what happened to the website Hometime.com. However, we can speculate that, with the television series gone, the people responsible for keeping the website might also have found themselves with nothing to update the website with, and possibly no jobs too.