Nights 10 pm - 2 am
In 1954 he gained his first television role at WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, where he was hired as an actor playing several roles (one was an undertaker) in Action in the Afternoon, a Western produced by the station and aired in the New York City market. Three years later, he was hired as the host of WCAU's Shock Theater, which debuted on October 7, 1957. As the host, Zacherle appeared wearing a long black undertaker's coat as the character "Roland," pronounced "Ro-land", who lived in a crypt with his wife "My Dear" and his lab assistant, Gasport. The hosting of the black-and-white show involved numerous stylized horror-comedy gags that have become standard on television. In the opening sequence, Zacherle as Roland would descend a long round staircase to the crypt. The producers erred on the side of goriness, showing fake severed heads with blood simulated with Hershey's chocolate syrup. The show sometimes featured live "cut-ins" during the movie in which the soundtrack continued to play on the air, while the visual feed switched briefly to a shot of Zacherle as Roland in the middle of a humorous stunt, such as riding a tombstone. The show ran for 92 broadcasts through 1958.
He was a close colleague of Philadelphia broadcaster Dick Clark, and sometimes filled in for Clark on road touring shows of Clark's American Bandstand in the 1960s. Clark reportedly gave Zacherle his nickname of "The Cool Ghoul." In 1958, partly with the assistance and backing of Clark, Zacherle cut "Dinner with Drac" for Cameo Records, backed by Dave Appell. At first, Clark thought the recording was too gory to play on Bandstand and made Zacherle return to the studio to cut a second tamer version. Eventually both versions were released simultaneously as backsides on the same 45, and the record broke the top ten nationally. Zacherle later related several LPs mixing horror sound effects with novelty songs.
During the fall of 1967, Sunday morning listeners of progressive radio station WNEW-FM, were treated to Zacherley's New York radio debut. Word spread quickly and Zach was soon given his own daily program. During this period, Zach often donned his frock coat and makeup to host a Halloween party or horror film premiere. For example, Zach donned full makeup and costume during 1968 to host and emcee the New York premiere of the science fiction film, Green Slime. On February 14, 1970 he appeared at Fillmore East music hall in New York City to introduce rock act the Grateful Dead. His introduction of the band can be heard on the Grateful Dead album Dick's Picks Volume 4.
During 1970, Zacherle moved to WPLJ-FM, the most popular of the progressive radio stations. During the fall of 1970, Zach hosted a Halloween radio show which featured horror rock and novelty songs from a variety of sources including Zach's own record album.
Zach stayed with FM until 1980, when he retired because of frustration over format restrictions.
In the early 1980s he played a wizard on Captain Kangaroo, appearing without his trademark Roland costume and make-up. He continued to perform in character at Halloween broadcasts in New York and Philadelphia in the 1980s and 1990s, once narrating Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" while backed up by the Philadelphia Orchestra.
In 1986, he hosted a direct-to-video program called Horrible Horror, where he performed Zacherly monologues in between clips from public domain sci-fi and horror films.
In 1988 he struck up a friendship with b-movie horror director Frank Henenlotter, voicing the puppet "Aylmer," a slug-like drug-dealing and brain-eating parasite, one of the lead characters in Henenlotter's 1988 horror-comedy film Brain Damage, and cameos in his 1990 comedy Frankenhooker, appropriately playing a TV weatherman who specializes in forecasts for mad scientists.
Zacherle continues to make appearances at conventions, and to this day, Zacherle collectibles are still selling, including model kits, T-shirts, and posters. The book Goodnight, Whatever You Are by Richard Scrivani, chronicling the life and times of The Cool Ghoul, debuted at the Chiller Theatre Expo in Secaucus, New Jersey, in October 2006.
The comic book anthology, Zacherley's Midnite Terrors (created by Joseph M. Monks, and featuring top artists like Basil Gogos, Ken Kelly, William S. Stout and Mike Koneful), was created solely as a tribute to "Zach". Three issues were published, and Zacherley acted in a commercial to promote them.