Full Throttle Saloon owner Michael Ballard said having a reality television show on TruTV has done wonders for business even though next year's Sturgis motorcycle rally is nearly nine months away.
The program, called "Full Throttle Saloon," airs Tuesdays on the TruTV cable network. It chronicles the day-to-day operations at the bar/entertainment venue on S.D. Highway 34 east of Sturgis during the annual motorcycle rally.
"We have gotten a lot of calls from people wanting to come here," Ballard said. Those people covered all spectrums from riders to non-riders.
Since the start of the "Full Throttle Saloon" season on Nov. 10, Ballard has struggled to get the bar ready for the rally, caught employees stealing, survived a fire and a lightning storm.
But wait, the worst is yet to come. Next week's episode focuses on the hail storm that hit the Sturgis area on Friday, Aug. 7 this year. The promo for the show on TruTv.com says: "When the worst hailstorm in the history of South Dakota rips the Throttle to pieces, Michael and Angie do their best to rally the troops and get the bar back in business."
The show follows the workers and patrons who come to the Full Throttle during the rally.
Ballard said the people who have called said they never realized how much work goes into Full Throttle preparation so people can enjoy it for two weeks.
"It has opened up a new market to Sturgis," Ballard said.
Cabin rental requests at Full Throttle have increased considerably as people realize the musical entertainment available in Sturgis during the rally, Ballard said.
TruTV is available in 91 million homes.
The Tuesday, Dec. 15, episode describes the rally's final night, and it's Ballard's last chance to make his money for the rest of the year. It's also "Locals Night," but a younger and rowdier crowd comes in and brings a whole new set of problems.
Both one-hour installments air at 8 p.m. for Black Hills Midcontinent customers and 11 p.m. for Knology customers.
Ballard says he and a friend, Jesse Dupree, have worked on this project for seven years. They pitched the show to VH1, Spike, Discovery and other cable television stations.
Dupree represented Mighty Loud, an Atlanta company that helps develop music artists. He is also the lead singer for the group "Jackyl."
Dupree pitched the show to Arnold Rifkin, who owns the Cheyenne movie company. Ballard said Rifkin is the top reality show producer in Los Angeles. He's done shows such as "Trading Spaces."
Smith sent two camera crews to Full Throttle in 2008 for a sales reel and sold the program to TruTV. Ballard said that experience helped him and his staff members feel comfortable in front of the camera this year.
Thirty-two people were on the set for the 2009 filming. The crew, which included four writers, four producers and sound technicians, spent a total of 14 days in Sturgis setting up and filming.