Austin City Limits is saddened to learn of the death of Paul Bosner on March 24, 2022, at the age of 94. A veteran television producer, filmmaker and photographer (click over to his obituary for an overview of his amazing career), Bosner was one of the original triumvirate of ACL creators, along with director Bruce Scafe and executive producer Bill Arthos. Despite living in Dallas, it was Bosner who hit the music clubs and soaked in the cosmic cowboy scene, encouraging KLRN/KLRU program director Arhos in 1974 that the station needed to produce a music show for PBS national.
Alongside Scafe, Bosner was key in developing the look and feel of ACL in its first season. “He wanted honesty,” wrote Clifford Endres in the 1987 book Austin City Limits. “The only way the camera would capture the truth of the event was for all concerned to concentrate not on technique but on understanding their subject: the music and its audience.” As Bosner himself put it in a memo to the production staff, quoted in Endres’ book:
“…the essence that is to be recorded on tape is that magic that floats back and forth between the musician and the audience, an energy that permeates the atmosphere…There will be no need to establish a visual point of view as to where the camera is – it will be everywhere seeking out relationships, audience to musicians, musicians to each other, musicians to audience.”
The influence of those ideas drives the show to this day.
On top of that, Bosner is usually credited with coming up with the name Austin City Limits. Arhos wanted a three-word title inspired by the movie Macon County Line; since Bosner’s weekly commute from Dallas saw him pass the “Austin City Limits” sign, “the image gradually merged in his mind with the music he heard during his nights in the clubs,” as Endres put it. “‘I’ve got the perfect title,’ he told Scafe.” Thus Bosner saved the show from being titled Hill Country Rain or Travis County Line, and an icon was born.
Our condolences go out to his family, friends and industry colleagues. May he rest in peace.